Young Wakefield author pens first novel, ‘97’

The cover of the new novel entitled ’97.’ features the George Washington Bridge. The novel features many borough locations, and opens at Taft High School’s baseball field.
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Bonhomme

An aspiring new author has penned a novel he hopes that young people will relate to and find inspirational.

Jonathan Bonhomme of Wakefield recently published his first novel, called 97: A Novel, a coming of age story of a Yovanny, a Dominican-American young man with a talent for baseball.

The novel chronicles Yovanny’s life from the time he is 17-years old to when he reaches his 22, when life choices are coming at him faster than a 97-mile per hour fastball, a the tag line for the book.

Bonhomme, who works for a solar panel company, said that many of the novels he read in high school were classics, but were somewhat out of touch with the youth of his generation.

He wanted to write something relatable to youth today.

“I felt kids should have a book that was relatable and that would encourage them to read and pursue their own goals,” said Bonhomme, adding that he wants youth to read 97, and “say ‘that is me; I am going through that.’”

Another goal of 97 was to not tie up all loose ends for readers but to let them use their imagination to guess as to why characters make certain decisions in the novel.

The readers of the fictional story will recognize many real-life locations around the borough that are either the setting or are mentioned by the characters, said Bonhomme.

A key character name Niko, who is Yovanny’s friend and a source of rising tension in the narrative, comes from the Bronx.

The opening chapter of the book takes place at the Taft Educational Campus’ baseball field.

Depicted in the novel are a barbershop on Valentine Avenue and a character from the Bronx River Houses, said the author.

There are mentions of other places throughout the borough like Fordham Road, City Island, a restaurant on City Island, Monroe High School and Poe Cottage. Yovanny comes from nearby Washington Heights in Manhattan.

Bonhomme said that he had aspired to write since he was a young man and he came back to it after establishing a career.

“I used to write random stories when I was younger,” he said. “I just started writing again two years ago.”

He said he going to the process of completing another novel, called 10 States, the story of an adult who is going through a divorce and who is making his way down I-95 towards a new life.

He chose the baseball trope that is ever-present in 97 in part after having conversations with a friend who is a retired minor-leaguer and partially based on his own experience playing college baseball in West Virginia. He still plays in adult leagues today.

The characters from 97 came to him naturally, so much so in fact that he said he dreamed about the book’s main character, Yovanny, and saw the character’s face in the dream.

Bonhomme said that he gave a talk to young people about 97 at the Bronx Library Center in Kingsbridge that was well received.

You can learn more or purchase a copy on

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
The author plays baseball, which factors into much of the novel.
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Bonhomme

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