GODS OF THE ANDES Review - a great read for mere mortals

Can you judge this book by its cover?

I'm not a guy, not a lover of baseball in general or the White Sox specifically and not a Southsider.  Yet Jack Zimmerman has manages to spin a surprise-at-every-turn, empathetic, funny tale that is so universal, it grabbed me at the start and held me tight all the way to the last word. Gods of the Andes isn't about the Andes.

The Andes Mountains Photo: National Geographic, Peter Essick

This funny, sweet-natured novel is a young man's coming of age story that takes place during the cliff-hanger 1959 White Sox pennant race after a 39-year drought.  That's why this book is such a surprisingly delightful and engaging read.

Jack Zimmerman at 18 in 1959 looking a lot like Fred Mueller?

Gods of the Andes is one of those books that you can't wait to finish because you care so much about the characters and then you're sorry it's over because you'll miss them!  Zimmerman's characters are so real, his ear for dialogue so pitch-perfect, his gift for storytelling studded with gentle humor is so captivating, he involved me in every way. 

This is the way I picture Comiskey Park in 1959. Photo: FlyingSock.com

Gods of the Andes sent me to the Internet to check White Sox 1959 stats ( I couldn't stand the suspense another minute!), it had me worried about his characters (I cried more than once on the "el" while reading it), and I laughed out loud more than once at its deft use of poetry.

Here’s what the book cover reveals:

South Side of Chicago, Summer of '59
Stoller Parkway needs a miracle

Estelle Shuller teaches no-talent piano students. Bimmey
O'Brien steals dogs for money. Fred Mueller mopes over a
failed Juilliard audition. Fred's father wants to run away to
the Andes. Fred's mother would like to see him go.

But the White Sox are about to clinch the American League
Pennant, and Bimmey's sister inspires a betting
scheme that changes everything.

A Minnie Minoso baseball card. Photo: Tom McMahon

What a cast of characters! What a predicament!  That's not the half of it!  As Zimmerman weaves his tale--so many quirky plot twists (even involving Minnie
Minoso!)--I was mentally sitting on the edge of my chair. And wait until you fully understand the Andes connection! What a terrific, perfect payoff!

Jack calls his book, his "love song to the Chicago of my youth."  It's the Chicago of my youth, too--even though I didn't grow up in Chicago! Read it and see
if it's the Chicago of your youth.  Email me at [email protected] and tell me how it resonated with you. Really.

Do yourself a favor. Buy two books, one to keep and reread whenever you need a lift, one to share with friends. You may even want to keep some on hand for last-minute gifts for book lovers, sports lovers, music lovers, Andes lovers—lovers! You will be giving them a stroll down Stoller Parkway--aka memory
lane. I may even give a copy to a friend who is a "non-book reader" but a White Sox fan-- it's that good.

This is how I picture Stoller Parkway. Photo: Cornerstone, Havens

You don’t even have to leave your computer. Jack Zimmerman's GODS OF THE ANDES is available at www.amazon.com, www.borders.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

Order two today.  Read it ASAP.  Then you, too, will know what it means to be a god of the Andes.

Jack Zimmerman, God of the Andes?

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