Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
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I admit it. I'm one of those readers who's read everything John Grisham has ever written, and I'm sure that tradition will continue into the future. This is, like Bleachers and A Painted House, a definite departure from the genre that made him famous - but why not? I love seeing a writer stretch. And this book is enjoyable.
I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had not just read a very similarly themed book a week ago. I just finished Sandra Brown's Playing Dirty. While Brown's book is a crime novel, the heroes are so similar. Both are former NFL quarterbacks who have fallen from grace. In Brown's book, it's a former Cowboy's quarterback who got caught throwing a game. In Grisham's, it's a third string Brown's quarterback who bounces around the NFL until he blows a huge lead by throwing three interceptions in a row to keep the Browns out of the Superbowl.
So - our equal parts likable and unlikable hero goes to play for the professional football league in Italy where most people think football means soccer and don't even know Italy has American football teams. But the players there are passionate about the game. They play, literally, for no money - but just for the pizza and the love of the game. Our hero, predictably, catches their spirit for the game and winds up finding a better part of himself. There is a lot of average in this novel, and yet - I found myself following the action near the end of the book as if I was watching a Utah - BYU game in the 4th quarter. That definitely felt like enjoyment to me.
It's not one to write home about (although all American novelists seem compelled to do just that - write a novel set in Italy after visiting there), but I did enjoy John Grisham's latest bestseller - Playing for Pizza.