Ernie's Bleachers - Book Review

Ernie's Bleachers

Author: Tim Pareti
Genre: Young Adult - Coming of Age
Publisher: Tim Pareti
Date Published: 00 , 0000
ISBN-10: 979-8-218-00301

Book Review of :  Ernie's Bleachers


Ernie’s Bleachers by Tim Pareti is historical fiction written as a coming-of-age narrative. The well-researched and personal story is a compelling close look at the culture of 1940s Chicago, World War II, and the fears and hopes of thirteen-year-old Eddy Pareti. The author ties the story of his father’s character and happenings to the Chicago Cubs baseball team and Wrigley Field.

Tim Pareti’s grandfather, Ernie Pareti, owned and operated Ernie’s Bleachers, a tavern and short order café across the road from Wrigley Field. Tim’s father, Eddy, was reared in the apartment adjacent to the bar and was expected to contribute his labor to the family business. However, Eddy’s outgoing, free-spirited personality and indulgence by his parents, grandparents, and older siblings encouraged him to shirk his responsibilities and engage in mischief.

Eddy’s escapades will encourage middle school readers to read late into the night. With play-by-play antidotes from games at Wrigley Field and references to historic ballplayers, readers will become engrossed in Eddy’s struggles with growing up and making good decisions. In addition, the slang language will be humorous for readers unfamiliar with Chicago’s Italian American culture.

Chicago’s political underworld permeated everyday life. Eddy and his extended family met in the tavern with mobsters, bookies, cops, and ballplayers. He learned of a system that pulls strings and makes payoffs. Graft is prominent. Mobsters scream at you with their hands out. “I rub your back; you rub mine.” 

The author presents many minor characters with as much gusto as he presents major ones. He introduces Babe Didrikson Zaharias, a woman athlete who struck out Joe DiMaggio. Babe held the women's record for throwing a baseball two hundred and fifty-nine feet. She was a fast runner, won an Olympic gold medal, and the Western Open golf tournament three times.

Pareti’s ability to create sensory imagery is shown in his description of  Elmore's grandmother's kitchen. “A rusty metal table and chairs sat in a kitchen that smelled like stale cigarettes, rotting meat, and sweaty armpits.” The cultural atmosphere throughout the book is evidence of the author’s research and close personal knowledge of the 1940s era in Chicago and beyond.

Escapades led to Eddy failing seventh grade, and then he skipped out during summer school. He is forced to attend a Roosevelt Military Academy. His slacker ways follow him until he is forced to grow up emotionally and recognize that there is nothing he could do about rules. “You just got to stay within the basepath when you run around the sacks and hope you can make it back home” became his motto.

This book will delight young adults as well as readers interested in history, especially the history of baseball.  

Reviewed by: Carole

About Tim Pareti


Tim Pareti was born and raised on the north side of Chicago. An award-winning journalist, he worked as a reporter and editor for Scripps newspapers and was a freelance writer for the Chicago Tribune. He lives in the Chicagoland area with his wife and kids. Ernie's Bleachers is his breakout novel, an historical fiction. It's a true tale about an Italian-American family that lives across the street from Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs.

Visit for more information on Tim Pareti


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