Nancy Willard is best known as a poet and author of children's stories. Along the way, however, she also has written two novels for adults, the first of which is Things Invisible to See
. I still have the copy my best friend gave me in 1985 when she passed through my hometown on her move from eastern Pennsylvania to Oregon (where she has remained for the 25+ years since), so my fondness for the book may be partially tied to my fondness for her :).Things Invisible to See
tells the story of Ben, who one summer evening casually belts a baseball out of sight, only later to discover that the wayward ball struck and seriously injured a young woman named Clare. Compelled to help her in any way he can before he goes off to fight in World War II, Ben quickly falls in love with Clare and her eccentric family (which includes a cat named "Cinnamon Monkeyshines".) It is the thought of returning to her that sustains him when the naval ship on which he serves sinks, and he finds himself adrift in a lifeboat with a single strange companion. With his future with Clare at stake, Ben makes a wager with Death: a game of baseball that will pit the young lovers and their families against the best players of all time, with Ben's life as the prize. Things Invisible
is magical realism at its finest, and I re-read it every few years purely for the lovely flow of the writing. You will be enchanted.