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 ...
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.
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This is a small book, so it is easily read in one sitting on a rainy afternoon! I found it easy to relate to the main character, and was very able to understand the range of emotions that he goes through over the death of a hated/feared coach. I can honestly say that this book made me laugh and cry.
Oct 27, 2007
Don't read this book unless you're American...
... and before you shout me down, as a UK reader, I really didn't enjoy this book and feel it was because it was so firmly set within US cultural high school mores. I spent my 10th. year in 5th grade of a Miami elementary school, and returned to family in the States throughout my teenage years and beyond - so I 'got' most of the baseball references and aspects of the culture but just couldn't work up any engagement with the characters. The sports coach at my elementary school was indeed an evil sadist - so I could even identify with that aspect of the tale. Maybe it was because the story lines were very tired and cliched. The 'familiar stranger' who revisits his high school haunts and sees everyone with an insight that their lives have been too shallow for them to share... groan. I tried to read the book twice, eventually forcing myself just to finish it and get it over with. It was given to me by a committed Grisham fan here in the UK who felt disappointed with the book and wondered if my knowledge of the US would make a difference. It didn't: we have to recognise that 'Bleachers' just doesn't travel well.
May 8, 2007
A super fast read! I finished this book in a day.
If you've ever had a tough coach in your high school years, you can easily relate to this tale of teammates looking back on their past. The love/hate relationship is beautifully illustrated and its a pleasure to see Grisham doing something so different from all the law and mystery.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-08-18 Grisham demonstrated he could produce bestsellers without legal aid with The Painted House and Skipping Christmas, and he'll undoubtedly do so again with this slight but likable novel of high school football, a legendary coach and the perils of too early fame. Fifteen years after graduation, Neely Crenshaw, one-time star quarterback of the Messina Spartans, returns home on hearing news of the impending death of tough-as-nails coach Eddie Rake. Neely knows the score: "When you're famous at eighteen, you spend the rest of your life fading away." It's a lesson he's learned the hard way after destroying his knee playing college ball and drifting through life in an ever-downward spiral. He and his former teammates sit in the bleachers at the high school stadium waiting for Rake to die, drinking beer and reminiscing. There is a mystery involving the legendary '87 championship, and Neely has unfinished business with an old high school sweetheart, but neither story line comes to much. Readers will guess the solution to the mystery, as does the town police chief when it's divulged to him (" `We sorta figured it out,' said Mal") and Neely's former girlfriend doesn't want to have anything to do with his protestations of love ("You'll get over it. Takes about ten years"). The stirring funeral scene may elicit a few tears, but Neely's eulogy falls curiously flat. After living through four hard days in Messina, the lessons Neely learns are unremarkable ("Those days are gone now"). Many readers will come away having enjoyed the time spent, but wishing there had been a more sympathetic lead character, more originality, more pages, more story and more depth. (Sept. 9) Forecast: This is an "in between" book, with Grisham's next legal thriller due out in February. Print run is said to be two million copies-about 800,000 fewer than Grisham's legal thrillers, but still huge. The audio version of the book will be released on the same date as the print version, with Grisham doing the reading himself. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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