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Bleachers by John Grisham

The novel Bleachers by John Grisham is about a typical southern town and its high school football team. When its coach and one of its players, Eddie Rake and Neely Crenshaw, find out the consequences when winning becomes the only thing.

Fifteen years after their high school football careers tragedy drives Neely and his former teammates to return to their former town of Messina. Their former coach, Eddie Rake, lies dying. It becomes clear that Coach Rake had a large impact on all his players and the community, by attendance at the vigil it is implied that he was revered however; it was his impact on Neely which is most pertinent.

In a flashback the reader learns that Neely left the town 15 years before. During the ’87 championship game he and Coach Rake had an altercation at halftime. The novel continues through the chapters that lead to Coach Rake’s death. During this time information about Neely’s life is learned. Neely’s subsequent career in football following the championship game was ended by injury, his marriage failed, and his love-hate relationship with Rake left him drifting through life as a bitter man. It is Rake’s oncoming death which allows Neely the chance to resolve all these conflicts and transform himself from what he has become.

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