Review: Bleachers

By | January 25, 2015

After Rake left they named it after him. Neely was gone by then, of course, long gone with no plans to return. Why he was returning now wasn’t completely clear, but deep in his soul he’d always known this day would come, the day somewhere out there in the future when he was called back. He’d always known that Rake would eventually die, and of course there would be a funeral with hundreds of former players packed around the casket, all wearing their Spartan green, all mourning the loss of a legend they loved and hate.

Over the course of the last few years I’ve come to the realization that I mostly don’t review fiction titles. They rarely stick with me in the way non-fiction titles do. However, this one is one of the few exceptions.

One of John Grisham’s non “Southern law” titles, Bleachers (like Calico Joe) is set in the world of sports. Unlike all or mostly all of his titles, it wasn’t clear whether this was set in the south. If not for his multiple Packers’ references, I’d have assumed it was.

Neely Crenshaw, all American everything. A promising football career cut short by an injury in college. Eddie Rake, local hero football coach. Hero to everyone but Neely Crenshaw, yet it’s the news of Rake’s impending death that brings Crenshaw back to Messina for the first time in 15 years.

Paul. Nat. Rabbit. The Screamer. Silo. Hubcap. Jesse.<

Small town heroes. Small town issues.

In light of the news of the last few years, it’s impossible not to see Joe Paterno in Eddie Rake. Due to the Sandusky scandal taking place during the time that Paterno’s health failed vs.the time that has passed since Rake caused Scotty Reardon’s death, time hadn’t healed as many wounds. That mostly happened this year with the NCAA restoring “Joe Pa”‘s wins. State College wasn’t small town Messina, but it was the kind of school Rake might want to send his boys too.

Rake’s Boys. They came home for him,they listened to a broadcast of the ’87 Championship Game while waiting for the news. Rabbit maintains Rake Field and lights serve as a vigil. They’ll always be Rake’s Boys and it will always be Rake Field. I think the same will ultimately be true of Joe Paterno in Penn State.

A quick, one day read that served as a nice change up between reads. Some authors can’t diversify from their primary topic (thinking Patterson and romance), but Grisham handles sports well.

It wasn’t my original “B” book, but it work and it’s title #7 in the 2015 Alphabet Challenge. 7 books in January is not bad at all.

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