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91 of 108 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deja Vu All Over Again!!!
You've read Bleachers, John Grisham's newest bestseller, many times in a thousand other books, many of them better than this somewhat undersized novel. The general atmosphere of high school football which consumes an entire town has been told better in Friday Night Lights. The harsh treatment of young football hopefuls by dictator-coaches was brought into cruel focus in...
Published on September 14, 2003 by chris meesey Food Czar

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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars WHEN WILL COURT BE IN SESSION AGAIN?
Frankly Bleachers left flat, tired and uninterested, kind of like watching a high school football game where the opponent is trouncing your team and the only sensation left is the hardness of the bleachers.
I wonder what Grisham is up to? Where are the legal dramas that made him a keeper and a best seller? I can only hope that court will be in session again soon...
Published on September 16, 2003


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91 of 108 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deja Vu All Over Again!!!, September 14, 2003
By 
chris meesey Food Czar (The Colony, TX United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bleachers (Hardcover)
You've read Bleachers, John Grisham's newest bestseller, many times in a thousand other books, many of them better than this somewhat undersized novel. The general atmosphere of high school football which consumes an entire town has been told better in Friday Night Lights. The harsh treatment of young football hopefuls by dictator-coaches was brought into cruel focus in the non-fiction Junction Boys, about Bear Bryant and a legendary sweatbox training camp for his players during his first summer at Texas A&M. And, of course, keeping vigil for an impending death has been literally done to death many times, notably in Edward Albee's Pulitzer-Prize winning play All Over. So, why read Bleachers? Because, once again, the fresh, newspaper-like quality of John Grisham's minimalist prose draws us into the story and makes us love and, in our own ways, relate to all the characters, saint and sinner alike. Here, we have Neely Crenshaw, the gifted ex-quarterback who can't forgive Coach Eddie Rake for one moment of lockerroom abuse; Cameron, the ex-girlfriend whom he jilted in high school and who cannot fully forgive him; Mal, the ex-player turned lawman who has his own chilling tale to tell; and finally, the ex-teammates who meet spontanously in the bleachers of the old stadium awaiting news of the coach's impending death. They meet shyly, hesitantly at first, then start to drink and tell stories while listening to a tape broadcast of their most famous game. (Their shared stories as they relive this game are the undisputed high point of the book.) Yes, we even have the memorial service in which our ex-quarterback and (believe it or not) our dearly departed coach get the chance to have a final say. We know the outcome of this story as surely as Friday night football in the South. Why retell it? Because it is a very touching and human story and like all the best stories, deserves to be told again and again. (Besides, it'a a short book, and quick readers will finish it in a matter of hours.) In short, a good reaffirmation of life, the human spirit, and football in all it's glory.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Effort / Fun Read..., October 1, 2003
By 
This review is from: Bleachers (Hardcover)
I'm not a huge Grisham fan and find myself only really reading his departures, Skipping Christmas, and now Bleachers. I have to say that I truly did like both novels. Bleachers is not merely a sports story and I would disagree that you need to be a football fan to enjoy this book. Bleachers is much more. It's a story of shattered dreams, potential, regret, and coming to terms with one's past. The story's central character Neely Crenshaw deals with a love that hurts 10 years later, a coach dying whom he is unsure if he loves or hates. Bleachers makes you think back to the one person that affected your life more thn anyone. Bleachers is not a great character study and is certainly not going to blow your mind, but Bleachers is a great escape and will make you think back to the days when you were 18.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read, September 15, 2003
By 
nobizinfla "nobizinfla" (Windermere, Florida USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bleachers (Hardcover)
There are no lawyers, judges, juries or DA's in "Bleachers" by John Grisham.
It is a simple, unpretentious story eloquently told.
The high school football team put a small Southern town on the map after a new coach was hired. Eddie Rake, the coach for 34 years won numerous state championships and had an eighty-four game winning streak.
More important than the stats was the influence, inspiration and affect he had on his players. They were considered the elite, not only of the school, but the town as well.
The coach is dying and players return for the vigil and funeral of the man they both loved and hated, revered and feared, adored and abhorred.
Generations of players mingle, stories are swapped and long held secrets are revealed.
A powerful book that will make you laugh, cry and cheer---and in the end feel uplifted and reaffirmed.
You cannot ask for more than that.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not his best; more like "Football with Morrie", October 10, 2003
By 
Donald Duenne (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bleachers (Hardcover)
Let's first off establish that this book is not one of John Grisham's best books. It doesn't hold a candle to "A Time to Kill" or "The Partner." This book, however, is best read by those who love and appreciate sports or who have had an influential coach in their life. Other wise, the passages describing games and plays will drone on for a little too long.
After ten years Grisham still his own way of telling a story that is as comfortable as slipping on a favorite pair of pajamas. Bleachers is a quick romp, but not much to savor.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short, sentimental, and reasonably satisfying, September 17, 2003
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This review is from: Bleachers (Hardcover)
This slim (168 pages) novel follows a week in the vigil and funeral for an historic high school football coach in a small town devoted religiously to the sport. Actually, fanatics, crazed, zealots, insane boosters and other, even stronger words come to mind to describe the town's commitment, The pending death of the coach gives reason for a goodly number of his 700-plus former athletes to come into town. Neely - the knee-damaged super quarterback of the stunning 1987 state championship -- is back, for the first time in a long time. He, not the dying coach, is the center of the story.
Supporting Neely is a good array of colorful characters, high school jock stereotypes - the gangly, misfooted punter who later comes out of the closet and now owns a book store, the star receiver now managing the local bank, the convict, the ex-convict, and the current sheriff, the scrawny back who suffers a terrible fate, and more. And there is the memory of the perfect, dumb, devilish, blonde cheerleader, who is out of town but on the mind of more players than just Neely. She took Neely away from another stereotype: the cute girl who grows up to be perfect. Neely can't forget her and she can't forgive him for leaving her for the legs and lungs of the vixen.
There is not much time to develop the characters, not in these few pages. Two threads run through the book: the death that led to the coach's firing and the mystery behind that 1987 state championship when, trailing 31-0 at the half, Neely and Silo (Yes, he's built like a silo; there's also one athlete named Hindu.) lead the team back for a miraculous win. Best of all, one alum drags out a tape of the second half, allowing a radio broadcast to magnify the mystery: Why did the coaches not return to the field for the second half.
The funeral and the final showdown with the jilted first love provide answers. While no great novel, and no great work of art, "Bleachers" offers a sweet trip down memory lane for any boy who ever fastened a leather chin strap on an old high school helmet, and who never got the girl, the championship, or the short-lived, bittersweet glory. And you can read it in ninety minutes. Or rent "Everybody's All-American" to watch Dennis Quaid play someone quite like Neely.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars WHEN WILL COURT BE IN SESSION AGAIN?, September 16, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Bleachers (Hardcover)
Frankly Bleachers left flat, tired and uninterested, kind of like watching a high school football game where the opponent is trouncing your team and the only sensation left is the hardness of the bleachers.
I wonder what Grisham is up to? Where are the legal dramas that made him a keeper and a best seller? I can only hope that court will be in session again soon and that Grisham will leave these non-legal dramas to other authors more fitted to the genre.
Douglas McAllister
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No conflict = not much of a story, December 27, 2005
By 
Angus McManus (Parenthetically speaking) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bleachers (Mass Market Paperback)
Don't expect any of the traditional and typical suspense and excitement of Grisham's regular body of work to be represented in this novella.

I must admit, I didn't read the book -- I only listened to it on CD on a recent car trip. There's no conflict, making for a fairly pointless storyline. The protagonist doesn't grow much (if at all). While the writing DOES conjure up plenty of characters many people will know from small-town life, the dialogue Grisham puts into their mouths seems incredibly unlikely. Who really speaks in paragraphs in this sort of town, except maybe Bill Clinton? Certainly not the same ex-jocks who deliberate over a cheerleader-cum-cocktail waitress named "Screamer" (one of several painful passages). And the sole mystery (just how DID Neely break his hand?) will be quickly ferreted out by the least attentive of readers.

Concerning redeeming qualities, Grisham does round out his more important characters, for the most part. They each have a touch of good and bad, colored more grey than black or white. Also, football fans should enjoy the book, especially if the only other reading they do is the local sports page. Non-fans, on the other hand, will tire from the endless litanies of statistics and radio announcers game descriptions.

For a better sports-related choice, look up David Halberstam's THE TEAMMATES. It's better written, more engaging, and it really happened.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Read, September 27, 2003
By 
James Navilio (Sharon Springs, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bleachers (Hardcover)
I must start by saying I am a John Grisham fan and I usually try to read all of his books. That said, I did enjoy this novel for what it was, a short but well crafted story. I do not think it is proper to fault a book because it is short or because it does not live up to prior books in depth. I enjoyed the book for the story and the lessons that were present within it.
The story of "Rake" and his boys was crafted nicely. The high standards he held each of his players to and the Love/Hate relationships that are formed with people of authority. We can see through the the story that the role that Rake chooses for his life is not an easy one. He is not the coach to make his players feel good, he is there to push them and make them stronger, mentally and phyically. The reader learns through the telling of the story that is not the actual game you play, it is the preparation as a team, and the hardships and triumphs, that can shape a young person.
I felt the author really conveyed these points and I would recommend this book for anyone has not played organized sports for a good glimpse into the culture.
While it may not be viewed as John Grisham's greatest novel, I think it is worth the time to read it and at around 160 pages it is not a great investment in time if you do not find it enjoyable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars GOOD NOVEL, BUT ONE EXPECTS MORE THAN "GOOD" FROM GRISHAM!, October 13, 2003
This review is from: Bleachers (Hardcover)
This is not the first time Grisham has taken a break from his usual forte -- thrillers veering around the legal profession. Both "Skipping Christmas," a holiday tale, and "A Painted House," a semi-autobiographical family saga, deviated from the legal themes, but they were compelling stories told with sumptuous passion and detail.
Bleachers is also a good book but is unfortunately several clicks below the class you would expect from a writer of Grisham's cadre. It is lean. Both literally, you can finish the book in a couple of lazy afternoons, and figuratively -- the theme is a popular but now dying football coach, responsible for several victories in his (unnamed) southern state, being visited by his old players for final goodbyes.
What follows is a now-touching-now-bland set of reminiscings about how a single-minded obsession and hero worship at a young age can affect many lives. The novel showed sporadic promise with some very fascinating narrative, followed by long patches where very little happens.
Grisham novels are expected to be material that Hollywood producers drool on. Sadly, this isn't one of those materials.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grisham keeps putting out winners., September 11, 2003
This review is from: Bleachers (Hardcover)
Being from the south, and knowing what kind of importance an entire town can put on highschool football, I can relate to this book. The book is about an ex Messina highschool football star named Neely Crenshaw, who comes to pay his final respects to his old coach, and possibly rid himself of some old demons as well. This book to me hit the nail right on the head on how teenagers are immortalized as god's when they are good in high school sports, it also illustrates the dangers as well. Neely, who had a carreer ending injury in college is like so many teenagers across the country who are immortalized in high school but just dont quite make it at the next level. A great read I would reccomend to anyone.
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Bleachers (John Grisham)
Bleachers (John Grisham) by John Grisham (Audio Cassette - September 9, 2003)
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