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WithBleachersJohn Grisham departs again from the legal thriller to experiment with a character-driven tale of reunion, broken high school dreams, and missed chances. While the book falls short of the compelling storytelling that has made Grisham a bestselling author, it is nonetheless a diverting novella that succeeds as light fiction.

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.

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ISBN-10:  0440242002
ISBN-13:  978-0440242000
Author:  John Grisham
Publisher:  Dell
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review by . December 15, 2010
If you're looking for a legal thriller, "Bleachers", neither legal nor thriller, is certainly not the drink for which you thirst! In a quiet, pastoral yet moving style of writing which he was to re-use to incredible effect in "The Last Juror", Grisham has treated his audience to a powerful, evocative novella that paints a portrait of the final years of the century in Messina, a small town in deep south USA.      The story opens, develops and closes with …
review by . November 26, 2009
Most sports books involve a team that is struggling, there is conflict, both internal and external and then they manage to rise up and win "the big game at the end." Fortunately, and that is one of the most powerful features of this book, that formula is followed, but largely in reverse. There was a big game that the team managed to win, but that was years ago, yet it is still a powerful memory in the participants and the town where the team was from.   Neely Crenshaw was an outstanding …
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