Title: "Hannah in Between"Author: Colby RodowskyPublisher...

BOOK BRIEFS

May 15, 1994|By SUSANNE TROWBRIDGE Title: "Hotdogs, Heroes & Hooligans: The Story of Baseball'Major League Teams" Author: Michael L. LaBlanc Publisher: Visible Ink Length, price: 581 pages, $15.95 (paperback)

Title: "Hannah in Between"

Author: Colby Rodowsky

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Length, price: 152 pages, $15 Writing a book about a 12-year-old girl whose mother is an alcoholic and managing to make it neither preachy nor depressing would seem to be a tricky task, but Baltimore author Colby Rodowsky does it in first-rate fashion in "Hannah in Between," her latest novel for young adults. Hannah knows something is wrong with her mother; she's gone from being "a regular mom" to "someone who spills her drinks and has headaches a lot and sometimes forgets to do what she said she would." But none of the adults around Hannah say a word about her mother's behavior, leaving her to wonder if she's the only one who even notices it.

The depiction of an alcoholic hitting rock bottom may disturb younger readers -- Hannah's mom, driving drunk, runs into a bus, winds up in the hospital and suffers through agonizing withdrawal symptoms. But those who have been in a similar situation will identify with Hannah's embarrassment, turbulent emotions and confusion over where to turn for help and consolation.

Ms. Rodowsky has a knack for creating likable, believable young characters, and a sense of humor that eases the reader's way through the intense subject matter. Hannah learns that alcoholism is a disease, and one that can be controlled only when the drinker decides to stop consuming alcohol. The book ends on a hopeful note, but doesn't sugar-coat the process of recovery; Hannah's mother will be a "regular mom" again, but she and her family still face a long, challenging road.

This hefty book offers a team-by-team look at major-league baseball. It's up to date, with profiles of all 28 teams arranged in baseball's new alignment.

The first chapter offers a general history of the game, the last looks at the Negro Leagues.

The book is loaded with fact, trivia (the Houston Colt .45s changed their name to Astros after a dispute with the Colt Firearms Co. over the sale of trademark souvenir items) and photographs. Statistics are limited to year-by-year team finishes.

Fans may find room to nit-pick the sections on their teams. For example, the author, a Detroit native, doesn't mention the Tigers' two notable trades of 1960. After spring training, they dealt the batting champion (Harvey Kuenn) to the Cleveland Indians for the home run champ (Rocky Colavito). In midsummer, with both teams going nowhere, they made one of the wackiest trades in history, swapping managers (Jimmie Dykes to the Indians for Joe Gordon).

RUTH SADLER

Title: "The Edge of Honor"

Author: P. T. Deutermann

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Length, price: 456 pages, $22.95

At the height of the Vietnam War, Lt. Brian Holcomb is deployed in the Gulf of Tonkin on the USS John Bell Hood. While the posting may be good for his career, it is dangerous. The problem is not only the enemy, the North Vietnamese, but problems on the ship -- poor morale, abysmal leadership and a drug ring. At home, Brian's wife, Maddy, is a career woman who wonders about the wisdom of pursuing the war. She even begins to doubt her marriage, and is attracted to a mysterious Marine drill instructor. As conditions on the ship deteriorate, Brian is faced with decisions that affect his marriage and career, and his very existence.

"The Edge of Honor" is the rare book that addresses the complexities of war at the front and also at home. Brian and Maddy are rich, flawed characters, and the supporting cast is equally believable. The author captures the Vietnam period and its confusion perfectly. Particularly interesting -- and horrifying -- is the culture depicted on the Hood, a real-life ship around which the novel is set.

BOB BAYLUS

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