cover image A Short Move

A Short Move

Katherine Hill. Ig, $16.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-63246-103-2

Hill (The Violet Hour) fills this extensive life story of an NFL star with poignant emotional snapshots. Raised by a single mother, Mitch Wilkins shows remarkable football talent as a boy in the 1970s in his small town of Monacan, Va. He excels on the University of Miami team with support from his girlfriend, Caryn, who encourages him to go pro. As the last pick of the first round of the 1993 NFL draft, Mitch joins the New England Patriots as a linebacker. Hill hopscotches across time, highlighting changes in Mitch’s life as he switches teams and matures from assured rookie to subdued veteran (“Every hit, every lost hour of sleep, caught up to him”) through a 14-season career. Chapters alternate between characters, including Caryn, whom Mitch marries and divorces; their daughter, Alyssa; and Mitch’s close friend and brash teammate, D’Antonio Mars. The ravages of football and multiple marriages catch up to an ailing Mitch, who in 2019 suffers from debilitating headaches and vision problems. Hill’s elision of details about Mitch’s divorces and retirement increase the emotional effect of the changes in his life on the reader, and a surprising coda generates painful hindsight for Mitch about his life choices. Fans of sweeping family epics will enjoy this dissection of fame, sports, and the drive for connection. (June)