By Jim Lehrer
Random House Trade, Paperback, 9780812979442, 219pp.
Publication Date: April 20, 2010
A talented athlete, Johnny Wrigley believes that someday he will play major league baseball. But his life unexpectedly takes a detour. In April 1944, Johnny is a newly minted marine on a troop train heading west for California, where he will be shipped overseas to fight in the Pacific Theater. At a brief stop in Wichita, Johnny gets off the train and falls in love with the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. In a storeroom at the station, they share an intimacy that Johnny will treasure for the next two years at war—and beyond.
In Peleliu and Okinawa, nothing prepares Johnny for the terrible events that will haunt him forever. During fierce combat, inspiring thoughts of Betsy Luck (the name Johnny has given his Kansas love) keep him safe. Two years later, Johnny is back in Wichita, searching for the girl he wants to marry. But fate has different plans for Johnny, his long-dreamed-of baseball career, and the girl whose memory helped him survive.
“A warmhearted evocation of the road not taken.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[Oh, Johnny] bears many Lehrer trademarks. Relaxed storytelling, an eye for detail and his recurring themes of battles, bus rides and baseball.”—USA Today
“Lehrer mixes baseball, WWII and romance . . . [Oh, Johnny] gives readers insight into a Greatest Generation leatherneck.”—Publishers Weekly
“A profoundly sad and beautiful story.”—Booklist