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BLEACHERS By John Grisham

Bleachers is John Grisham’s third venture off the beaten path of his ever-popular legal thrillers, and I liked it much more than the first two. By way of caveat, let me say first that Bleachers is not really a novel. At 163 smaller-than-normal sized pages, it’s a short story. It does not have the depth of character or plot that we expect from a novel, but as a short story, it is thoroughly enjoyable.

Bleachers is the story of the quintessential crusty high school football coach, Edie Rake. Rake is the kind of coach who lived his life completely without fear, who made men from boys, brought out more talent than even parents believed was there, and delivered winning season after winning season to rabid boosters and fans. I should admit that part of why I enjoyed Bleachers is because I grew up in a small town just like Messina where the high school football players were mini-Gods who were excused everything and worshipped every Friday night in packed bleachers with the smell of hotdogs and vinegar fries in the air. I knew this coach, these players, and I understood when the coach became ill why so many players, many of whom thought they hated him, could not stay away from his bedside.

I will buy Bleachers for my father and I know he will love it as he loves high school football. Any former athlete or fan will find something to relate to in Bleachers, but if you’re expecting The Firm, you will definitely be disappointed. My only regret is that Grisham didn’t stretch this idea to a real novel. The characters were powerful enough to justify it. With a recommendation for John Grisham’s short story dressed up as a novel, Bleachers, I’m Amanda Dickson on the Book Beat for KSL Newsradio 1160.

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