Braden is a baseball-crazy teenager, good enough to go straight into the minors as a pitcher after high school, as his father did. But a wrench is thrown into his plans when his dad is suddenly arrested, and his brother that he hasn’t seen in nearly ten years returns to look after him, or at least keep him from being sent into foster care. Braden’s dad is being accused of running over and killing a police officer from a nearby town, and Braden is one of the few witnesses to the crime. As baseball season starts, Braden is distracted by the trial, meetings with the lawyer, trying to get to know his emotionally-distant brother, and dealing with his life at school, where everyone knows exactly what is going on. He will soon have to make some hard choices about his convictions that he will somehow have to live with.
Conviction, by new author Kelly Loy Gilbert, is an engrossing coming-of-age book that gives a peek into the mind of a boy wrestling with religious and moral issues in the midst of a personal crisis. We see him grow as he comes to realize what kind of a person his father really is, getting to know his brother that he assumed had left for no good reason, and dealing with the pressures of the pitcher’s mound. Some readers might be put off by the religious language and issues, but I found it to be very enjoyable and representative of personal issues that many students confront.