This will be the first official review posted on my blog. Though it’s not a new book (it was published in 2008), I wanted to get some experience with writing short, informal reviews for this website. If you haven’t read the book, I hope this review informs your decision about whether you read it or not!
A few weeks ago, I was over at my grandmother’s house with my family, helping her pack up her things to move into her new apartment. When we cleaned off her bookshelves, she put all the books she planned to get rid of in a box and told us that we could pick the ones we wanted.
Among those were several brand-new-looking, first edition John Grisham books. I’d never read any of Grisham’s books for adults (I’ve read some of his Theodore Boone kids series), so I thought I’d give them a try.
The first of the books that I picked out was Bleachers. It was slow at first, with no apparent plotline, though the writing was exemplary – I kept stopping to daydream about the metaphors and analogies he uses to describe places, events, and feelings. But as the book progressed, I started to realize the heart of the story, and by the end, I was empathizing with the characters and contemplating the moral of this ordinary tale and the impact that one person can have.
Bleachers, first and foremost, is a story about football. Football terms litter almost every page, describing plays and passes in such intricate detail that I finished the book feeling like I knew more about football than if I’d actually grown up watching or playing it (which I haven’t). This requires an in-depth knowledge of the sport that impresses me, and makes me wonder if Grisham has a personal knowledge of football or if he researched it specifically for this book. If the answer is the latter, then I am astounded. This to me is the hallmark of a good writer.
But the thing that touched me most about this book is also the heart of this book, and that is Coach Eddie Rake. He is the one the story centers around. Every character has been touched by the life of this one man, though they didn’t realize it until later. A simple football coach, yet the things his players and town remember – his actions towards the people around him, life lessons he taught, the way he pushed his players – not every memory was good, yet years later the people he influenced still remember him.
It makes me wonder who my own life has touched. What would people say about me if I died tomorrow? What impact have I made? This is a question important for everyone to consider. From this book, it’s obvious that Eddie Rake made a bigger impact than he could have ever imagined. A town gathers together at the passing of a legend – a man who lives on through the people he has touched.
As far as recommendations go, I’d recommend this to almost anyone old enough to understand the depth of the story and the sports jargon. A few negatives to consider include use of profanity (frequent but not necessarily inappropriate to the context), the football terms that are sometimes hard to visualize, and a seemingly slow start to the story. Other than that, I thought it was a very good book, and since for my personal reviews I’m using a 5-star system, I rate it 5 of 5 stars.