As the high school football coach in his small, rural Maryland town, Dean is a hero who reorganized the athletic program and brought the state championship to the community. When he married Nicole—the beloved, town sweetheart—he seemed to have it all—until his troubled wife committed suicide. Now, everything Dean thought he knew about his life and the people in it is thrown off kilter as Nicole’s death forces him to re-evaluate all of his relationships, including those with his team and his three children. Dean’s eleven-year old son Robbie is acting withdrawn, and running away from school to the local pizza parlor. Bry, who is only eight, is struggling to understand his mother’s untimely death. And nineteen-year- old Stephanie has just left for Swarthmore and is torn between her new identity as a rebellious and sophisticated college student, her responsibility towards her brothers, and feeling like she is still just a little girl who misses her mom. As Dean struggles to continue to lead his team to victory in light of his overwhelming personal loss, he must fix his fractured family—and himself. And what he discovers along the way is that he’ll never view the world in the same way again.
Have you seen the beautiful cover? Do you love the 90s and small-town stories? If so, you should get your hands on this book. It’s a bit long and not a lot happens, but I felt like I was watching a beautiful film, one of those movies I used to love when I was a kid. I really believe this could become a great film.
This is not one of those plot-driven novels I usually read, it’s actually more character-driven: everything revolves about Dean, the high-school football coach, her teenage “daughter” Stephanie and her brothers Robbie and Bry. The story takes place in 1996, about two months after their wife and mother’s unexpected suicide.
Mainly, this book is told by Dean and Steffy’s points of view. Both storylines: Dean dealing with the children and his feelings for other women and Steffy at college, trying to figure out who she is, were equally appealing. I didn’t lose interest at any point and both characters were interesting (although Dean was harder to like, especially when he seemed to care more about football than his children). However, the character I loved the most was Bry: he was so sweet and innocent that you couldn’t help but adore him.
This is a slow-paced novel, beautifully-written and deep, one that grabbed me from the first page and kept me reading for more two hours straight. A book about family, grief, friendship and love, one of those I can see almost everyone enjoying.
Finally, I want to say that the last part of the book was completely gripping and I was on the edge of my seat for the last 50 pages or so. The ending was subtle but quietly satisfying and I ended up thinking I’d really miss this small town and these complex characters.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.