72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
A truly incredible read,
This review is from: Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream (Paperback)
I finally got around to reading this book just recently; I wish I had read it when it came out in 1990. "Buzz" Bissinger pulls no punches in telling it like it is, how a high school football team can be the main rallying point of an otherwise isolated community, several hundred miles from the nearest large metropolitan area; a community whose residents are deeply religious, God-fearing, and shamelessly prejudiced and intolerant of non-whites.
I remember the controversy this book caused shortly after its release. Having read it, I now understand why: In a community where there's otherwise "nothing to do," a local high school football team can unite people of all races, incomes, cultures, etc. I should know: I used to live in Lubbock, not too far from Odessa; the townfolks share the same conservative beliefs and euphoric passion for football. Bissinger's metaphor-rich style of writing really made me feel as if I was back in West Texas. The similarity of the two cities was uncanny. I began to read in search of something startling and controversial; instead it brought back a lot of memories. As I learned, the people of Odessa and Lubbock are strikingly similar (except Lubbock also has collegiate football, from Texas Tech University, to root for, as well as a few local high schools). I found Bissinger's descriptions totally accurate, if not downright eerie.
In the end, I couldn't help but feel for the 17- and 18-year-olds who had to endure the pressure to produce one victory after another, and the supporters' shameless win-or-else attitude. Bissinger's ability to empathize with America's appetite and obsession for winning really drove home the point. When I finished reading it, I cried. This book was THAT soul-stirring.
To Stephanie, a Permian High School grad who wrote a review of this book in May 1998: I'd advise you to read "Turning The Page - '88 Permian team still can't escape glare of 'Friday Night Lights,'" by Dave Caldwell (The Dallas Morning News, November 24, 1999). You called Bissinger "a liar," but Jerrod McDougal, whose loud Bon Jovi music was mentioned in the introduction, said "The Book [as it's known in Odessa] painted a pretty ugly portrait of the town, but there's not a lie in it." And Randy Ham, a Permian grad who works at a bookstore in Odessa, mentioned, "It is a bitingly accurate portrayal of the town. It really is."
Mike Wallace, the "60 Minutes" correspondent, said that "'Friday Night Lights' reads like fiction; unhappily, it is fact." I feel that's all one needs to know to prepare for this truly incredible read.