Bleachersby John Grisham Published 09 Sep 2003
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High school All-American Neely Crenshaw was probably the best quarterback ever to play for the legendary Messina Spartans. Fifteen years have gone by since those glory days, and Neely has come home to Messina to bury Coach Eddie Rake, the man who molded the Spartans into an unbeatable football dynasty.
As Coach Rake's 'boys' sit in the bleachers waiting for the dimming field lights to signal his passing, they replay the old glories, and try to decide once and for all whether they love Eddie Rake – or hate him. For Neely Crenshaw, still struggling to come to terms with his explosive relationship with the Coach, his dreams of a great career in the NFL, and the choices he made as a young man, the stakes could not be higher.
Sporty read! enjoyable,heartwarming,well developed characters with good storytelling..recommend (paperback!)
It was not fun. Guys who played high school football 15 yrs ago reminisce about the past. Melancholy and sadness.
Eddie Rake was a tough, mean, high school football coach with undefeated teams for many years. He now has cancer and is expected to die any day. Guys who used to play football for him have returned to town for the coming funeral. Neely was a star quarterback in high school. His career was cut short due to a knee injury in college. Neely talks with other guys about the past.
This isn’t the kind of storytelling I’m used to from Grisham. It’s not as fun. Almost everything is being “told” not shown. We listen to the guys reminisce and remember events from the past. It was interesting in a newspaper reporting kind of way. There is no excitement, suspense, or anticipation. I didn’t feel anything as I listened. I didn’t laugh or smile. At best it was ok. I felt the author may have been experimenting - trying a different style of writing.
Some of it was about brutality and violence in football. A lot of it was sad to see what happens to football players after they no longer play. I was sad for Neely at the losses in his life. His wrecked knee. He lost the only two women he ever loved. He broke up with one of them for a stupid reason, and he regrets it. He had no desire to study and better himself after his football career was over. He’s not happy. He’s resigned to life.
The author narrated his own book which was ok. It was interesting to hear his southern accent.
Unabridged audiobook story length: 4 hrs and 22 mins. Swearing language: none that I recall. Sexual content: none. Setting: current day Messina, Mississippi. Book copyright: 2003. Genre: football fiction. Ending: sad, resigned, life goes on.
A High school football star comes back to his hometown to bid farewell to his dying coach. The book is about group of friends reminiscing the glory days of playing together and their relationship with their coach.
Word of caution : The book is centered around American football and their recollections of their memorable games (incl a long play by play commentary of 1 particular game). So if you have no idea about the game, you will find it annoying after a point.
Sadly,the relationship between the coach and the players and the players themselves is never fully explored and the emotional ending at the end feels totally flat. Overall 2/5
Fifteen years after swearing he would never return, Neely Crenshaw finds himself back in Messina, Texas, awaiting final word that local legend and former football coach Eddie Rake has died. When he left, Neely had become a local legend as one of the best quarterbacks in Messina High's history, but a falling out between him and the coach left him bitter and kept him away until this moment. Now, he finds himself drudging up the specters of the past with his former teammates as well as other former Rake players from other eras. This is a very painful novel to read having played high school football myself and I share many of the same feelings towards my old coach as Neely does — and as I'm sure many other former athletes do — despite the fact that I was not a star, hell I wasn't even a first stringer. In all honesty, this feels like a novelized version of what a sequel to the movie Varsity Blues would be. It's easy to tell that this story is very close to Grisham's heart and that he took the writing of this book very seriously as there are no cheesy subplots or alternate storylines to detract from the main story at hand. My only complaint was that this book was far too short. Clocking in at a mere 163 pages, this novel can be cranked out in one sitting and I felt that more could have been developed upon.
"When you're famous at eighteen, you spend the rest of your life fading away. You dream of the glory days, but you know they're gone forever."
This makes for an interesting change of pace and style for Grisham. It proves that he can write outside his usual genre and just about get away with it.
Bleachers is a nostalgic tale of dreams lost and memories swirling. The town of Messina is in mourning. Their feared yet beloved football coach Eddie Rake is on his death bed. As his condition deteriorates, players old and new drift back into town to pay their respects to their teacher, mentor and friend whom they loved and hated in equal measure. They gather at the bleachers to reminisce. The legacy of this man reverberates even as he takes his last breath.
I'm not interested in football and almost discarded this at the halfway point. The book is divided into long chapters which represent the days leading up to the death of the coach. The entire middle section is a blow by blow account of a past football game including commentary. However, I'm glad I picked it back up because it was after the game that it started to get interesting. I also feared the reaction of one of my Goodreads friends if I failed to finish it as he commented that it was his favourite Grisham book!
Grisham has managed to create a cast of characters, and develop them so effectively, that they represent both the importance of football to a local community whilst simultaneously destroying it as a complete waste of time and energy, unimportant in the big scheme of life. I'm not sure how he has done this, or why, as I believe he is a football fan.
The story is summed up in these few words spoken by a former player:
"Come back in a few years and they will not know your name. Your fabulous career will be a footnote. All the cute little girls will be mothers. The green jacket will still be a source of great personal pride, but you won't be able to wear it. High school stuff. Kids' stuff. Why was it so important back then?"
As a Christian, these words resonate with me. I often look at the things people obsess about, especially sport, and wonder why. I think about what they will be left with when it gets dull, or when the thing they love is removed, or they are no longer able to worship it in the same way. I fear for them if this idol is all they have when they die and meet God.
Then I remember that I was like that too. I actually was a massive football supporter in my teens and obsessive about every game. The entire mood of our household was determined by whether my team won or lost. As I grew older, I fixated on other things. Whatever it was, it didn't ultimately fill the void in my heart and I was always dissatisfied and looking for the next thing worthy of my time and attention. It was only when I realised that my greatest need was God and that He was the only Person I should be worshiping that my life changed.
Grisham has somehow hit the nail on the head with this short novel by emphasising the fleetingness of earthly glory and fame. The sadness that is left as the years go by is presented as something worth revisiting. Unfortunately, he doesn't offer any solutions for joy and hope in the future once these things have passed away and all that is left is the memories. I am blessed that I have the answer in Jesus who offers hope not only for this life but for eternity!
This is worth reading, if I was a current football fan I would rate it higher...
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Couldn't put it down. And it makes you think about how people influence you and how strong a bond is between coaches and players. This was excellent.