A gem of a little story about a high school senior forced to sit out his last year of football because a major concussion the season before. He's angr...moreA gem of a little story about a high school senior forced to sit out his last year of football because a major concussion the season before. He's angry and bitter and things aren't going well for him, and suddenly his elder neighbor who cleans the falling leaves out of her yard by hand is really bothering him. Perotta really captures how all-consuming high school activities can be and how wretchedly unfair it seems when those activities are prematurely taken away.(less)
Wow, I thought this was just going to be a fish-out-of-water story about a dorky kid, Felton Reinstein, who suddenly found himself a stupid fast high...moreWow, I thought this was just going to be a fish-out-of-water story about a dorky kid, Felton Reinstein, who suddenly found himself a stupid fast high school athlete, but really that was just a small piece of this story about how hard it is to be a rapidly growing teenage boy in a family with a shadowy past that's suddenly coming back to haunt everyone.
The story is told from Felton's point of view in the form of diary entries, and this is one of those times where an unreliable narrator is used to great effect. Part of the reason Felton is having such a hard time is because there are issues in his family's past that he's just not ready to deal with, and so readers are left desperate to figure out the problem with Felton as he slowly begins to piece things together.
It's the summer before junior year and Felton has been growing like crazy and sprouting hair everywhere. He's also become stupid fast and went out for track, even though he's never been interested in sports before. As he's gotten bigger, his mom has gotten weirder and weirder, even for her. His mom's strange behavior is causing his little brother to freak out too. His best friend is spending the summer with his family visiting his sick grandmother in Venezuela and Felton has to take over his stupid paper route while he's gone, so it looks like Felton's set to have a horrible summer.
Only the paper route introduces him to a new friend who's staying in his best friend's house for the summer, and just may become his first girlfriend. One of the jocks who used to torment him has decided to take Felton under his wing and help in get in shape for football season, and it turns out Felton is a natural. Plus, all this physical activity is giving him a great release for all the stress his family's crazy actions are giving him.
Telling this story from Felton's perspective also helped make it clear how hard it can be to be a teenage boy. Felton generally wants to do the right thing, but often he lacks the language to articulate what's going through his head, or he's so overwhelmed by feelings, all he can do is run away. Imagine the mood swings of adolescence paired with major family drama. It's sort of incredible that Felton manages to make it out of this summer in as good shape as he does.
My only complaint about this book is that a few things come together a little too neatly at the end, but overall there's still a lot left unresolved and I'm excited to see what happens next in the next book.(less)
With the winning combination of Italy and football Grisham tells a winning little story about a washed up NFL quarterback whose last option is to play...moreWith the winning combination of Italy and football Grisham tells a winning little story about a washed up NFL quarterback whose last option is to play in the semi-pro American football league in Italy. He deals with culture shock in Parma, as well as the transition from pampered NFL third-stringer, to one of the few paid players on a team where everyone plays solely for the love of the game rather than big contracts and advertising dollars. I still can't decide if I think the ending is refreshingly open-ended or unnecessarily abrupt, but the rest of the book is solid. Nothing overwhelming or surprising, but I still found myself quickly unable to put the book down.(less)
Iowa Football: The Greatest Games, Players, Coaches and Teams in the Glorious Tradition of Hawkeye Football is solid quick introduction to the highlig...moreIowa Football: The Greatest Games, Players, Coaches and Teams in the Glorious Tradition of Hawkeye Football is solid quick introduction to the highlights in Hawkeye Football History. The book is divided into chapters on players, coaches, big games, rivalries, quotes, traditions, and stats, making it a well-organized ready reference for when I'm trying to remember the big plays in the #1 vs. #2 battle against Michigan in 1985. The foreward by Hayden Fry is a nice touch since he's pretty much sainted by the Hawkeye faithful. I also liked getting a little more background on some of the players in Iowa's distant past, especially Nile Kinnick, the namesake of the Hawkeyes' home field. But if you're looking for an in depth history, you're out of luck. However, this is still another solid edition in the Game Day series produced by Athlon Sports and Triumph Books.(less)
At times I wanted to be angry at the typical female stereotype this book is built on: While some women may be football fans, they simply don't grow up...moreAt times I wanted to be angry at the typical female stereotype this book is built on: While some women may be football fans, they simply don't grow up learning the intricacies of the game like men do, and many of them grow up learning next to nothing about the game. Overall, though, I found this a wonderfully accessible introduction to the intricacies of professional football.
While I wanted to be offended at the assumption that women just don't know the details of football, I have to admit that I don't really either. As a kid who grew up watching football on Sunday afternoons & Monday nights and has become an increasingly rabid fan of Hawkeye football, I can definitely follow the main action in a game. However, I couldn't tell what a nickel back was, the advantages of running a West Coast offense, or even what a West Coast offense was, for that matter, so I guess I fit the stereotype. But Holly doesn't apologize for women being so dumb when it comes to football. Instead, she seems to have decided that as a good NFL quarterback's wife (her husband is Rodney Peete), she simply needs to help us women catch up.
The book starts with the assumption that women will pick it up with varying levels of football knowledge, some with a fairly solid base like me, but others who know nearly nothing about the game & simply want to find some way to understand their man's Sunday afternoon obsession. I was disappointed with how much time Peete had to spend with the very basics of the game for less knowledgable readers, but I understand why it was necessary to the book. It also helped that little blurbsexplaining some of the most significant historical developments in the game were scattered throughout the book , breaking up some of the more tedious information. After each chapter there was also a top ten list of a significant aspect of the NFL (key players, coaches, Super Bowls, etc.) Peete's somewhat informal tone also kept the book from getting too dry & boring while remaining clear enough when explaining the important details that I was dying to learn.
I wouldn't necessarily recommend reading this book straight through, at least not the last chapter (it's simply a list of NFL teams & important items from their histories), but that's because it makes a great go-to guide for those times when something comes up during a game that you don't understand. While I wish she could have gone into more depth about different offensive and defensive formations, I still appreciate the way this book filled in the gaps in my basic football knowledge. And while the book ended much to quickly for me, Peete leaves her readers with the tools to continue to increase their football knowledge.(less)
For those who know me, it's not too surprising that I saw the movie version of this book shortly after it came out. I LOVE football movies. So eventua...moreFor those who know me, it's not too surprising that I saw the movie version of this book shortly after it came out. I LOVE football movies. So eventually I was going to have to get around to reading the best-selling book it was based on. Unlike the movie, Lewis' book tells two stories: the heart-warming story of Michael Oher's rise from poverty and the story of the left tackle's rise as the best kept secret of strong NFL offenses.
I love football, but having never played the game, I understand very little of the strategy aside from the flashy players who carry the ball. I watched my brothers play various defensive positions, but I honestly couldn't tell you what they were other than one brother's senior year when he proudly told me he was playing middle linebacker because he was on-field leader of the defense (and he was, watching him shout instructions to the other defenders was one of the highlights of watching him play). So Lewis' lesson that the left tackle is the most important player on the offensive line because he protects the quarterback's blind side, was one I hadn't had an inkling of before reading the book. Yet, as he went into chapters worth of evidence to support this statement, I was able to follow every facet, from the entrance of Lawrence Taylor, as the first super-huge, super-athletic blind side blitzer, to the rise of Bill Walsh's West Coast offense, making passing a much bigger part of NFL offenses, leading to the need for bigger, more athletic, freak of nature left tackles like Jonathan Ogden.
Lewis does an excellent job of telling the heart-warming story of Michael Oher and his integration into the Tuohy family, as well as distilling the nuts and bolts of changes in football over the last forty years that made the left tackle position perfect for someone like Michael Oher, making him a top college prospect after playing barely more than a season of high school football. If you have an interest in sports, the story of the rise of the left tackle will appeal to you. If you have any interest in hearing what a little care and attention can do to turn a kid's life around, you'll love the story of Michael Oher.(less)