cover image In Days of Awe

In Days of Awe

Eric Goodman. Alfred A. Knopf, $20 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-394-58912-1

During the Days of Awe, which fall between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Jews ask forgiveness from those they've sinned against. Nearly everyone in Goodman's immensely appealing second novel (after The First Time I Saw Jenny Hall ) wants forgiveness, including Joe Singer: ``born to a boy's adventure tale, he'd landed ass-up in tragedy.'' The adventure was becoming baseball's best pitcher; the tragedy was being banned for ``throwing'' a game; put up to the scam by his father, Joe feels he has shamed his race, his team and himself. Recently moved to California, Joe seeks atonement from ``the wrathful God of Jewish athletes'' after his Monday-and-Wednesday affair (he has another woman on Tuesdays and Thursdays) is violently ended by a psychotic husband. He falls in love with Frannie, who wants forgiveness for hateful thoughts she's harbored since her father ax-murdered her mother. But Frannie lives with Des, an activist minister who runs a shelter and heads up a political campaign for gun control. Joe finally finds atonement, but only after he surmounts danger and guilt in equal measure through a series of funny, suspenseful events. Although readers may want Joe to lighten up, readers will enjoy this introspective yet briskly paced novel that never takes itself too seriously. Author tour. (May)