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BOOK REVIEW:

Racing My Father Wins Hearts of Readers

by Julie P. Wittelsberger
Racing My Father
by Patrick Smithwick
Lexington, KY: Eclipse Press
Hardcover, 376 pages, $24.95
22 b/w photos, 10 color photos
ISBN-10: 1-58150-140-4

What makes a story interesting? Depth, heart, character and truth are all the ingredients within Patrick Smithwick’s memoir, Racing My Father: Growing Up With a Riding Legend. This reader was captivated by the sounds and textures chosen by the writer to describe the world of steeplechase and the horse racing industry as told from the perspective of a child who was raised within this culture. Inspired by and in awe of his father, Steeplechase great Paddy Smithwick, young Paddy, the author, is a formidable student and merciful companion to his father’s livelihood, a son who struggles with his own life’s wishes and goals, winning all of our hearts in the end.

We feel the dirt on the tracks and see the beautiful snow-covered hills of Monkton, Maryland—but mostly the writer lets us feel the love between father and son.
True depth and dedication describe the sometimes cruel and bitterly physical world of training and racing horses, and the writer takes us to where we feel the cold, hunger and heat—and the losses. We feel the dirt on the tracks and see the beautiful snow-covered hills of Monkton, Maryland—but mostly the writer lets us feel the love between father and son, and what it’s like to have a father who is a legend, and to know how special a place that really is. As a bonus, the double message in this story is about how this young man finds his own way in the world, and chooses to become a writer with the very vigor and determination his father had all his life. With this book, Patrick Smithwick too crosses a significant finish line.
Julie P. Wittelsberger writes from Parkton, Maryland.


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This story was published on December 27, 2006.