Author: Marjorie Herrera Lewis
Summary: The author wrote football plays clearly and managed to convey her passion for the sport, but the writing was simplistic and the story lacked depth.
Assistant principal Tylene Wilson grew up loving football. During WWII, she came to believe the sport made it more likely young men would stay in school instead of enlisting early. With so many men away fighting, however, it looked like the season would be cancelled for her high school team. Instead, Tylene stepped up and volunteered to coach, knowing the sexism she’d face for doing so. This is a fictionalized version of her true story.
I picked this up because I like stories about groundbreaking women, even though football is really not my thing. There were a few places that diminished my enjoyment of the book, leaving me annoyed at the way people act like a sport is something heroic. Most of the time the author won me over with her main character’s family and community connection to the sport. I also mostly enjoyed the main character. She had a family history that explained why her parents encouraged her interest in sports despite the prejudices of the time. She was also a believable amount of stubborn and gave some great speeches I’d love to see in an inspiring sports movie.
Unfortunately, the writing didn’t work for me. It was extremely simple, even when discussing difficult topics. The football plays were generally explained so I could understand them, even as a novice, but that was the only strong point. The story felt cliched and predictable. Although Tylene had to be convinced to coach, I didn’t think there was any real character development. She came across as passionate and stubborn from the beginning. What made her choose to coach was not personal growth, but a lack of other options she hadn’t tried. None of the other characters were well developed either. The setting was lacking for me as well. Details of the times were given in info dumps, instead of being incorporated into the story. The book was extremely short. Overall, my complaints can be summed up as a feeling that this story simply lacked depth.