I’m not really into football but I nabbed this out of the book exchange on vacation in Mexico, one of the only two books that they had in English. I’m sure glad that I did because by the time I was finished, my tears were flowing and I was glad that I was wearing sunglasses and I had my towel handy. This is a great novel for guys and gals and I am definitely passing this one around. This novel is a quick read, it’s about football and family, it’s about how people touch your life and it’s about reflecting on your life and your future. This novel speaks about so many things in life but it was the way the whole community came together and the way that they felt about Coach Rake that spoke to me. Grisham writes with honesty and openness as individuals talk about their football coach, they are speaking from their heart, and no one scorns them for their remarks.
Coach Rake reigned on the football field for years, he helped his team and his players set records. He was a hard ass, his players hated him while they played on the field for him but he taught them. It was his voice that they heard throughout their lives, even when they were off his field, out of their high school, pushing them, encouraging them, and challenging them. Sometimes it broke them and other times it made them into better men. What hit me the hardest in this novel was the emotional toil the football coach had on his players. Now, as Coach Rake comes to the end of his life, many of the players return to Messina to celebrate his life. Gathered in the stands, sharing a cold beer, the players replay the events that made their days at Messina memorable. For some players like Neely, Messina was just the beginning. Coach’s techniques were not the greatest but as I listened to these players, young and old, retell their stories, I felt that the coach brought something out of each of them. Coach Rake fought for them. I think the players each knew that their coach loved them but his way of showing it, was not the greatest. Fabulous read, I can’t wait to hear what other people I give the book to, have to say about it.