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Bleachers Paperback – May 29, 2007
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The story centers on the impending death of the Messina Spartans' football coach Eddie Rake. One of the most victorious coaches in high school football history, Rake is a man both loved and feared by his players and by a town that relishes his 13 state titles. The hero of the novel is Neely Crenshaw, a former Rake All-American whose NFL prospects ended abruptly after a cheap shot to the knees. Neely has returned home for the first time in years to join a nightly vigil for Rake at the Messina stadium. Having wandered through life with little focus since his college days, he struggles to reconcile his conflicted feelings towards his former coach, and he assays to rekindle love in the ex-girlfriend he abandoned long ago. For Messina and for Neely, the homecoming offers the prospect of building a life after Rake.
Physically a narrow book, Bleachers is a modest fiction in many respects. The emotional scope is akin to that of a short story, with a single-minded focus on explorations of nostalgia and regret. The dialogue, especially that of Neely's friend Paul Curry, is sometimes wooden as characters recall Messina history in paragraphs that were perhaps better left to the narrator. But Grisham has otherwise written a well-made, entertaining--if a bit sentimental--story. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
While this author may entice or mesmerise you with his popular legal thrillers, there are several books such as this one, where he captivates you with the simple human condition. Read morePublished 9 hours ago by K. Wiedemann
Grisham is at the top of his game in a rare non-legal novel. The man just knows how to weave a story and make you wish you were in it!Published 14 days ago by Charles Kauitzsch
Typical spell binding. Could not put the book down. Probably could fit any small town football program with their love and hate affair with hard driving coachPublished 1 month ago by small town girl
A fast-moving short novel with wonderful characterization. As a high school football player, it brought back a lot of memories, and as in the book, some good, some not so good. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Joseph H. Race