Brought to you by OBS reviewer Caro
The year is 2043. God and Satan are dining at a cute little Italian trattoria in Purgatory, when Satan challenges God to a wager: At stake is whether Good or Evil will prevail in the world. Both antagonists will choose someone on earth to compete in a winner-take-all athletic competition. If God’s choice wins, Good will prevail forever. If Satan’s choice wins…
They select tennis as the ideal crucible in which to have this ultimate mano-a-mano sporting test of physical skills and inner strength.
Throughout the novel (which takes place in Florence, Venice, Rome, New York, Florida, Ohio, Paris, Barcelona, Melbourne, and Wimbledon), Italian wunderkind Ugo Bellezza (God’s choice) and American prodigy Jack Spade (Satan’s) battle both opponents and their own personal demons—and become the two greatest players in the history of tennis—until, in the final chapter, they clash in a titanic battle at Wimbledon, a cataclysmic, touching, and surprising dénouement in which (with everything on the line, literally and figuratively) the eternal battle between Good and Evil is ultimately decided.
This was definitely an amazing book to read!. I really liked it and enjoy it. If I’m not mistaken, this is the first book I’ve read that its story centers around a sport and that specific sport being tennis. It was a first good experience with a different genre than my usual one, fantasy.
I couldn’t help, but love this idea of Good vs. Evil and sports that author Bob Mitchell portrays through his writing; two tennis players decide the faith of the world and its inhabitants. I would call this short story, a very well thought out piece of creativity. At the end It just gives you something to think about for a while and wonder what other sport could have God and the Devil chosen for their endless battle.
The characters were a clear representation of what God’s good human and what the Devil’s bad human would be like, just like the people that surrounds them and helps them grow as a person in their careers, whose roles within the story turn out to be key points, too. This was more than just a very well described tennis game. There’s so many art, literature, history, sport and other details well placed within the story that reflect and interfere in Jack and Ugo’s life throughout their training that serve as lessons even at the final match. I got lost remembering all of these quotes and events from when I first heard of them in those class days like Ugo.
But, underneath all that excitement to learn who will be the final winner, there is also a family story and the problems they face. Jack can’t take his father’s treatment anymore, which leads him to hurt himself and comply to what he’s ordered to do. While, Ugo, who seems like the happiest kid in the world, suffers as well. Usually the plot twist or that shocking piece of information that gives the story a turn in events that makes one say WHAT?! out loud, comes at the end, but the author reveals this detail about Ugo at the start that just surprised me and makes you wonder more who will really win.
All in all this was a great book to read. The plot, its characters, the quotes, tennis, the Italian, the abilities and disabilities, parenting, food and the fun conversations between God and Satan. I definitely recommend you read this book even though I feel it might be a little tricky for those that don’t like sports or tennis and less reading about it, but giving it a try won’t hurt you. You might actually learn more than tennis at the end. Let me ask you one question. If saving the world required you and the sport you practiced, would you have the enough strength physically and mentally to take upon the challenge? And, finally, I leave you with one last word. Love.