Thursday, May 17, 2012

Friday Night Lights for Wednesday Giveaway and review

"'As I stood in that beautiful stadium on the plains week after week, it became obvious that these kids held the town on their shoulders.'" -Father of a Permian football player, Friday Night Lights (p. xvi)

I remember sitting in the stands of one the football field at one of our rivals my senior year in high school. While I hated football everyone else in my family wanted to see the game that night since it was round one of the playoffs, a rare event in little Valley View, Texas. I took a book to the game, intending to get some reading done and the looks I was given for not intently watching the game could have been deadly.
However, as the game progressed, I found myself looking up from my book more and more. Until the end when I was one of the fans standing to watch the last seconds of a game that we were winning by one point. Then suddenly the opossing team kicked a field goal, gaining them 2 points over us. My heart broke. I hated the game but I found myself among those that were crying at the devistating loss our team, and therefore town, had just suffered. That is high school football in Texas.

Friday Night Lights goes a step further and shows you high school football in Odessa, Texas; a town where the football games draw crowds of up to 20,000 fans! A town dedicated to the football town to the point of worshiping the players. A town where it is not uncommon to find for sale signs int he head coaches yard after a loss.

H. G. Bissinger tries to capture the essence of the town by focusing on six players from the 1988 football team. They let him into their daily lives to see what they went through before each game, what they celebrated after each win, and what they endured after each loss. Bissinger gives a lot of the history of the town to try to make the reader understand the loyalty of the fans and the dedication of the players. In the afterward he talks about how 10 years after the book was published he still recieves harsh reviews of the world he portreyed in the book. No one wants to truthfully admit the power Permian football had/has over them.

While I will be the first to admit how much i dislike football, I found myself enjoying the story given here. I was drawn into the lives of the players, the fanatism of the fans, and the intensity of the events just as I had been in 2004 with my own hometown football team. I rushed through the end of the book, wanting to know every last detail of that final game, seeing it all in my head even though I did not fully understand it. I was also drawn in to the epilogue and afterward as the author fills us in on the lives of the players after they left that field house.

I would recommend this book, even to non-fans, but especially for Texans who have seen or been a part of the fanatism that can overtake us all when it comes to high school football. It was an interesting true story about one team and their fight to make it to the top, as well as a touching story about a few of the players and their sometimes love/hate relationship with the sport they are dedicated to.

That all being said, I am willing to pass on my copy. Both my husband and I have read it and while I would love to keep it perhaps to read it once more in the future or recommend it to my son as he gets older, I know that it's place is not on my bookshelf where it might sit untouched forever now that I have read it. So if you would like the opportunity to read this fascinating tale, simply leave a comment with your email address and I will get with you. It is a small paperback edition in perfect condition.

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