Me, sitting beside Leonel as we near the series end of Parks and Recreation on Netflix. I know that soon, I will be needing another show to watch. Then like a sign from above (if I believed in those), there perched on the hospital bed Leslie Knope and Ann Perkins have a short quippy debate about the families of Friday Night Lights.
It was right there, on the recommendation of two beloved, yet fictional characters, that I decided to give Friday Night Lights, supposedly an entire show about high school FOOTBALL, a try. And let me tell you the tv show holds up. I binged watched with the best of them and it was an enjoyable waste of time ;).
So, this past December when my brother Jeremiah told me there was a BOOK, that the tv show had been inspired from, and that both he and my niece had really enjoyed it, I decided to give it a try. And in January 2019; at 37 year, Hannah Bergstrom de Leon read her first “sport book” and it was about football.
Spoiler alert: I LOVED IT!
So just to be clear, the tv show (oh and there is a movie too apparently) is definitely inspired by but not at all the book. This book is an intimate portrait of Odessa, TX and the players of the 1988 high school football season along with their coaches and other connected figures in the community. It’s most definitely about football, but it’s also about race relations, economic tensions and how political and social wills shape communities and individuals.
I was utterly intrigued and inspired by how relevant a 20 year old book was to the American context of 2019. So much has changed and yet so much has remained the same. H.G. Bissinger puts into words with some of the most enticing prose I have come across the lives, loves, hopes, dreams and hearts of the people of Odessa, TX and how football shaped, molded and sometime broke them as individuals and as a community.
And I’ll tell you this, if all football games were narrated by Bissinger, I might actually become a fan. I have never found myself more engrossed in the plays, moves and outcomes of any football game as I was in those of 1988’s Panther’s football.
And so, I will be forever grateful to my NRL (not real life) gal-pals Leslie and Ann for putting me on this path of discovery, proving that I can enjoy football after all. Thanks ladies!
Happy Reading Everyone!
Goodreads Review of Friday Night Lights: by H.G. Bissinger