Grisham demonstrated he could produce bestsellers without legal aid with The Painted House and Skipping Christmas , and he'll undoubtedly do so again with this slight but likable novel of high school football, a legendary coach and the perils of too early fame. Fifteen years after graduation, Neely Crenshaw, one-time star quarterback of the Messina Spartans, returns home on hearing news of the impending death of tough-as-nails coach Eddie Rake. Neely knows the score: "When you're famous at eighteen, you spend the rest of your life fading away. He and his former teammates sit in the bleachers at the high school stadium waiting for Rake to die, drinking beer and reminiscing. There is a mystery involving the legendary '87 championship, and Neely has unfinished business with an old high school sweetheart, but neither story line comes to much. Readers will guess the solution to the mystery, as does the town police chief when it's divulged to him " 'We sorta figured it out,' said Mal" and Neely's former girlfriend doesn't want to have anything to do with his protestations of love "You'll get over it.

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Bleachers was published on September 9, The hardcover edition was published by Doubleday and the paperback edition by Dell. The book focuses on whether the famous Eddie Rake, former coach of the Messina High School football team, was loved or hated by his former players.

Neely Crenshaw, born in , is a high school All-American quarterback , who has been Messina High School's 'golden boy,' expected to lead them to the state title. Neely is a highly recruited quarterback with a golden arm, fast feet, plenty of sizes, maybe the greatest Messina quarterback ever. When Neely was younger and playing football with his friends, a man watching him approached Neely, saying "You're going to play football for the Spartans.

In , after trailing at halftime to East Pike, and crippled by a broken hand, the gutsy quarterback rallies the Spartans to a victory for Messina's first state championship in seven years, achieved without the assistance of coach Rake. His hand injury is caused when Neely punches Coach Eddie Rake in the face, after Coach Rake backhands him, causing him to break his nose. After graduation, Crenshaw had received 31 scholarship offers and chooses Tech, a fictional university.

In the second half of the Gator Bowl , Crenshaw comes off the bench for Tech, throws for three touchdowns, runs for one hundred yards and leads a last-second comeback.

As a sophomore, he is national player of the week when he throws for six touchdowns against Purdue University. When the story begins, most of the football players Rake had coached in his 34 years at Messina High School return to the town for the funeral of the legendary coach, a man both beloved and reviled.

Rake ends his career with wins, 62 losses, and 13 state championships. During a grueling unsanctioned Sunday morning practice in , Messina player Scotty Reardon died of a heat stroke.

Rake's brutal training methods are called into question and the superintendent of education, who also is Reardon's uncle, fires Rake. In a letter revealed at Rake's funeral, the coach states the two regrets of his life were losing Scotty Reardon and for striking All-American quarterback Neely Crenshaw at halftime of the championship game against East Pike.

At the funeral, Neely ends up forgiving coach after all those years of debating whether he likes or dislikes Eddie Rake. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Bleachers disambiguation. This article does not cite any sources.

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A whole new ball game

The town of Messina, probably in the state of Mississippi in the present day, with flashbacks of football seasons in the sixties, seventies, and eighties. Coach Eddie Rake Although he never appears in the flesh in the story, he is definitely the main character. He is a legend in Messina, having coached the high school football team for 34 years and piling up tremendous statistics. He also was fired for inadvertently causing the death of a player because of his strict conditioning practices. He is in the process of dying of cancer, and his former players begin to return to Messina to reminisce about their coach and the glory days of Messina football. Neely Crenshaw He is the main character, and the author tells the story from his point of view. Then, he received a career-ending knee injury as a sophomore in college and his great future disappeared.


John Grisham's 16th novel is not quite what you might expect: Bleachers is no clunking legal thriller but a slim, plotless little number about football. No Mafia, no dodgy juries, and not a struggling young attorney fighting against the system in sight. In so far as there is one, the hero of Bleachers is an ex-coach called Eddie Rake, a legend in the small town of Messina, whose football team he used to inspire to spectacular success. However, Eddie only appears towards the end, and in a coffin. The novel takes place during his last few days, so Eddie lies off-stage on his deathbed while the former players, who've gathered at the stadium to mark his passing, remember old times. Because the sport is, of course, not the kind loved and adored throughout the rest of the world but American football, the veteran stars who are recalling the triumphs of 15 years before are still in their early 30s. The Messina Spartans, whose stadium is always packed with 10, spectators, whose feats define the town, whose stars of yesteryear are framed in photos that cover the walls of the local diner, are a team from the local high school.


Look Inside. Sep 09, Minutes Buy. High school all-American Neely Crenshaw was probably the best quarterback ever to play for the legendary Messina Spartans. Fifteen years have gone by since those glory days, and Neely has come home to Messina to bury Coach Eddie Rake, the man who molded the Spartans into an unbeatable football dynasty.


Is the catharsis worth the price paid? And is it truly possible to forgive? The setting for Bleachers is Messina, a town in an unidentified Southern state which becomes the center of the universe for high school football fans on Friday nights. Among the returning players is former All-American Neely Crenshaw, who left Messina 15 years earlier, carrying a host of burdens with him from this field. Over the next 48 hours, he will face his demons and try to banish them. A high school quarterback himself long before he became a world-famous writer, Grisham knows all about the athleticism, the bravado and the overflowing testosterone that come together to create a football team. Using his considerable skills as a dramatist, he slyly weaves a compelling mystery that pulls the reader into his tale just what did happen at that final game?

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