The Ringer

The Ringer

The Ringer

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Reading the West Book Awards finalist

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist

2012 High Plains Book Award winner

Sidelined from coaching his sons' baseball team because he can't resist hollering at loafers, lollygaggers, and space cadets, Ed O'Fallon hopes focusing on his daughter's tee-ball team will calm his temper. But just as Ed prepares to guide the Purple Unicorns to their best season, his work as a Denver police officer changes his life forever. O'Fallon bursts into a home on a no-knock warrant, expecting to find drugs, but instead encounters a man pointing a gun. Ed kills Salvador Santillano, a Mexican immigrant he had more in common with than he could ever imagine. Worse, Ed learns his commanding officer made a grave mistake on the warrant that will force everyone in Denver to take sides.

Separated from her husband Salvador after their worst fight ever, Patricia Maestas discovers the police have killed him. Certain her husband never sold drugs, Patricia pushes to find out the truth behind the fatal raid, even while trying to keep her volatile, grieving son Ray from following a shady friend into a north-side gang. 

But Ray isn't just any disaffected adolescent he's a left-handed pitching phenomenon who throws a blistering fastball. Patricia hopes enrolling him in a competitive league will keep him away from danger, but instead it puts them on a collision course with Ed, whose sons play in the same league on a rival team. 

Ed and Patricia are unaware of the interconnections between them until a showdown at the regional tournament becomes inevitable, and their lives are forever altered.

"Good writing is about making the right choices. In The Ringer, first-time novelist Jenny Shank displays an unerring sense of direction while steering her book through rugged emotional terrain with a deft touch and obvious skill."--The A.V. Club

Every first novel has the potential to seize the interest of a wide readership when it combines these elements: a young baseball player seeking solace on the field for the loss of a father killed by police in a botched drug raid; a veteran Denver police officer (and baseball coach) scarred by a life-ending and life-changing split-second decision; and the women-mother/widow and the wife-who seek to move forward with their lives. Add to the mix a fragile history of urban ethnic discord, rivalry and then unity in a common pursuit, and the fact that no truth ever remains hidden. The result is an entertaining and suspenseful tale with a compelling climax. For diamond fans and those who enjoy a well-written contemporary novel.  —Library Journal

Shank debuts promisingly with the dramatic story of two families upended by an accidental police shooting and barrels toward a well-handled climax.
—Publishers Weekly  

The true miracle of Shank's novel is that she manages to tell her story from two distinct and very different points of view without ever favoring (or disfavoring) either. Instead, Shank encourages us to sympathize equally with both protagonists and, in so doing, effectively gives us two perfectly interwoven novels of heartache, uncertainty, and a modicum of triumph. Indeed, the exquisite agony of reading the novel is knowing the truth—that both parties are hurting, that both parties are under immense pressure from all sides not to be the first to blink, and that, in a better world, both parties would confront each other directly rather than losing themselves in the machinations of forces beyond their control. This, after all, is the great irony of the human condition in postmodern times: despite all of the means we have of communicating with each other, something always gets in the way. We are, Shank suggests throughout the novel, social animals bereft of true society, yet we do our best to make the kinds of connections—
human and personal, if tentative and limited—that make our lives worth living.

An astounding debut." --Small Press Reviews

"Shank’s novel is a solid, well written, and enjoyable summer read, especially for fans of baseball…and homesick Denverites." --New

"Newbie novelist Jenny Shank knocks it out of the park (pun intended)
with her first book, The Ringer. The dramatic story, set against the
backdrop of a Little League championship, follows two Denver families
from different cultures--opposing teams off the field, but teammates
during the game--who are forced to deal with the tragic repercussions
of a deadly mistake. Shank has a knack for writing prose that's both
artful and detailed, and is bound to have a rewarding career as a
novelist: This book was a semifinalist for the Amazon Breakthrough
Novel Award." --5280 Magazine

"The Ringer is a quintessential American story that deftly and compassionately examines the nuances of race, culture, and religion in contemporary society—and it does so with heart, wit, and playfulness. But Shank shows baseball to be more than a game. In this novel, it is a way of celebrating—and at times grieving—that awful, inescapable, and ever-surprising feat of being human." --Image Magazine

"Shank's first at-bat as a novelist is a hit."   --Kirkus

" exciting, intellectually challenging, and altogether worthwhile effort." --Spitball Magazine

"The Ringer is a compelling read with a clever plot, taut construction, and—best of all—boundless empathy for all its complicated characters.  Jenny Shank’s as good at moral conundrums as she is at mysteries, as good at police psychology as she is at baseball, as good at her male characters as she is at her females. This is an auspicious and exciting debut."  —Valerie Sayers, author of Brain Fever and Who Do You Love

The Ringer was a semifinalist for the James Jones First Novel Fellowshipand the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

Jenny Shank's stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in suchpublications as Alaska Quarterly Review, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, PrairieSchooner, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Onion, Bust, Rocky Mountain News,Dallas Morning News, and Boulder Daily Camera. One of her stories was nominatedfor a Pushcart Prize, and another was listed among the "Notable Essays of theYear" in the Best American Essays. She has won writing awards from the Center ofthe American West, the Montana Committee for the Humanities, SouthWest Writers,and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. For six years she was the Denver Editor ofThe Onion A.V. Club, and she is currently the Books & Writers Editor ofNewWest.Net. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband, daughter, and son.This is her first novel.

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