The town of Messina, probably in the state of Mississippi in the present day, with flashbacks of football seasons in the sixties, seventies, and eighties. Coach Eddie Rake Although he never appears in the flesh in the story, he is definitely the main character. He is a legend in Messina, having coached the high school football team for 34 years and piling up tremendous statistics. He also was fired for inadvertently causing the death of a player because of his strict conditioning practices. He is in the process of dying of cancer, and his former players begin to return to Messina to reminisce about their coach and the glory days of Messina football.

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Is the catharsis worth the price paid? And is it truly possible to forgive? The setting for Bleachers is Messina, a town in an unidentified Southern state which becomes the center of the universe for high school football fans on Friday nights. Among the returning players is former All-American Neely Crenshaw, who left Messina 15 years earlier, carrying a host of burdens with him from this field.

Over the next 48 hours, he will face his demons and try to banish them. A high school quarterback himself long before he became a world-famous writer, Grisham knows all about the athleticism, the bravado and the overflowing testosterone that come together to create a football team. Using his considerable skills as a dramatist, he slyly weaves a compelling mystery that pulls the reader into his tale just what did happen at that final game? With believable dialogue and vivid description, he takes us right into the heart of the huddle and into the hearts of his characters.

To his credit, Grisham manages to avoid the typical cliches that many writers use when dealing with the modern South. There are no barefoot hillbillies here. This is a world where high school football outdraws many colleges. When the klieg lights are shut off, when the season is over for good, does the single-minded devotion to a goal really serve you in the real world?

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A whole new ball game

Grisham demonstrated he could produce bestsellers without legal aid with The Painted House and Skipping Christmas , and he'll undoubtedly do so again with this slight but likable novel of high school football, a legendary coach and the perils of too early fame. Fifteen years after graduation, Neely Crenshaw, one-time star quarterback of the Messina Spartans, returns home on hearing news of the impending death of tough-as-nails coach Eddie Rake. Neely knows the score: "When you're famous at eighteen, you spend the rest of your life fading away. He and his former teammates sit in the bleachers at the high school stadium waiting for Rake to die, drinking beer and reminiscing. There is a mystery involving the legendary '87 championship, and Neely has unfinished business with an old high school sweetheart, but neither story line comes to much. Readers will guess the solution to the mystery, as does the town police chief when it's divulged to him " 'We sorta figured it out,' said Mal" and Neely's former girlfriend doesn't want to have anything to do with his protestations of love "You'll get over it.


Bleachers was published on September 9, The hardcover edition was published by Doubleday and the paperback edition by Dell. The book focuses on whether the famous Eddie Rake, former coach of the Messina High School football team, was loved or hated by his former players. Neely Crenshaw, born in , is a high school All-American quarterback , who has been Messina High School's 'golden boy,' expected to lead them to the state title.

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