I think I was in high school the first time I read Stephen King’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (I’ve been reading Stephen King since I was fourteen — don’t judge). So this recent foray through the book was actually a re-read. I am always astonished at the details I had forgotten about whenever I read a book for the second (or third… or fourth…) time. In this case, I was pleased to discover that this book is even better than I remembered it.
The novel tells of the adventures of Trisha McFarland, who gets lost in the New England woods after leaving the path while hiking with her mother and brother. All she really wanted was a bit of respite from her family’s squabbling, but instead finds herself unable to find her way back to the path and travels deeper and deeper into the woods. With her, all she has are a bottle of water, two Twinkies, a hard-boiled egg, a tuna sandwich, a bottle of Surge (can we make Surge mainstream again?), a poncho, a Game Boy, and a Walkman.
Trisha is a huge Boston Red Sox fan, and she is especially a fan of pitcher Tom Gordon, who was the Sox’s closer at the time the novel was written. Each night, as she journeys through the woods, she places the ear buds of her Walkman in her ears and listens to Red Sox games. During the day, she attempts to ration her meager supplies, and once they run out, she survives on berries and creek water.
Eventually, however, the stress of her situation causes Trisha to start hallucinating. Among her hallucinations, she imagines Tom Gordon is traveling with her, and they have conversations along the way about the secrets of closing. Her baseball knowledge is quite impressive for a nine-year-old girl, and the advice that her hallucinatory Gordon gives her helps Trisha to survive her ordeal.
I won’t go into detail on how the book ends, though I will say that this novel serves as another depiction of how much of a baseball fan Stephen King really is. Oh yes, there is also a bear involved, but I won’t give away anything beyond that. You’ll just have to read the book yourself — I promise it’s worth it.