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When the Men Were Gone

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In Marjorie Herrera Lewis’s debut historical novel the inspiring true story of high school teacher Tylene Wilson—a woman who surprises everyone as she breaks with tradition to become the first high school football coach in Texas—comes to life. Football is the heartbeat of Brownwood, Texas. Every Friday night for as long as assistant principal Tylene Wilson can remember, the In Marjorie Herrera Lewis’s debut historical novel the inspiring true story of high school teacher Tylene Wilson—a woman who surprises everyone as she breaks with tradition to become the first high school football coach in Texas—comes to life. Football is the heartbeat of Brownwood, Texas. Every Friday night for as long as assistant principal Tylene Wilson can remember, the entire town has gathered in the stands, cheering their boys on. Each September brings with it the hope of a good season and a sense of unity and optimism. Now, the war has changed everything.  Most of the Brownwood men over 18 and under 45 are off fighting, and in a small town, the possibilities are limited. Could this mean a season without football? But no one counted on Tylene, who learned the game at her daddy’s knee. She knows more about it than most men, so she does the unthinkable, convincing the school to let her take on the job of coach. Faced with extreme opposition—by the press, the community, rival coaches, and referees and even the players themselves—Tylene remains resolute. And when her boys rally around her, she leads the team—and the town—to a Friday night and a subsequent season they will never forget.            Based on a true story, When the Men Were Gone is a powerful and vibrant novel of perseverance and personal courage.


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In Marjorie Herrera Lewis’s debut historical novel the inspiring true story of high school teacher Tylene Wilson—a woman who surprises everyone as she breaks with tradition to become the first high school football coach in Texas—comes to life. Football is the heartbeat of Brownwood, Texas. Every Friday night for as long as assistant principal Tylene Wilson can remember, the In Marjorie Herrera Lewis’s debut historical novel the inspiring true story of high school teacher Tylene Wilson—a woman who surprises everyone as she breaks with tradition to become the first high school football coach in Texas—comes to life. Football is the heartbeat of Brownwood, Texas. Every Friday night for as long as assistant principal Tylene Wilson can remember, the entire town has gathered in the stands, cheering their boys on. Each September brings with it the hope of a good season and a sense of unity and optimism. Now, the war has changed everything.  Most of the Brownwood men over 18 and under 45 are off fighting, and in a small town, the possibilities are limited. Could this mean a season without football? But no one counted on Tylene, who learned the game at her daddy’s knee. She knows more about it than most men, so she does the unthinkable, convincing the school to let her take on the job of coach. Faced with extreme opposition—by the press, the community, rival coaches, and referees and even the players themselves—Tylene remains resolute. And when her boys rally around her, she leads the team—and the town—to a Friday night and a subsequent season they will never forget.            Based on a true story, When the Men Were Gone is a powerful and vibrant novel of perseverance and personal courage.

30 review for When the Men Were Gone

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    In Texas, football is sacred. Everyone knows it, including Tylene Wilson, the assistant principal of Brownwood High School. Having grown up sharing a love for football with her father, Tylene is devastated when the school begins to think about canceling the 1944 season. The truth is that there are no men in town that are willing or capable of coaching high school football; they're all off at war or struggling through their injuries. Knowing that canceling the season means many boys dropping out In Texas, football is sacred. Everyone knows it, including Tylene Wilson, the assistant principal of Brownwood High School. Having grown up sharing a love for football with her father, Tylene is devastated when the school begins to think about canceling the 1944 season. The truth is that there are no men in town that are willing or capable of coaching high school football; they're all off at war or struggling through their injuries. Knowing that canceling the season means many boys dropping out of high school and going off to war early, Tylene convinces the school to let her try her hand at coaching, even if it means having to face prejudice from her townsfolk, students, and even her friends. When the Men Were Gone is a quick read based on a real-life woman who stepped up to coach her town's high school football team during WWII. It's also a debut novel for the author, who definitely knows her stuff when it comes to sports; she's a sportswriter that worked the beat with the Dallas Cowboys, and later held a coaching position for a college team. That being said, while I feel like the book was authentic, was far too much like an essay or a news report than a novel, and I found myself skimming a book that barely reached 200 pages--2 stars. I wanted to sit for a moment. To imagine the boys preparing for the season. To deal with my emotions of fear and uncertainty--without a football season to look forward to, sixteen- and seventeen-year-old boys may prematurely go off to war. Honestly, my biggest issue with this book was the writing. I know that it's a debut novel, and that achievement is nothing to sneeze at. So while I respect the author for her portrayal of a real-life woman making history, I have to say that I was pretty bored throughout the majority of the novel, though it definitely picked up towards the end, when the tension of Tylene's first game as coach comes to a head. During the week, neighbors might be fierce competitors in business and classmates may jockey for grades, but not on those Friday nights, when the worries of life are washed away come kickoff. There's a strong difference between newswriting and creative writing, which might seem obvious. But I'll go ahead and break it down, anyway: Newswriting is all about the facts, no embellishments, no bells and whistles. Creative writing is the complete opposite. It lives on details and foreshadowing and elusive plot points. And, to me, this book read more like a news report than a novel. It was too much tell and not enough show. Every single thing is told to us, even things that aren't important for the story at all. Take this random paragraph, for example: We began to part ways. Bobby Ray told me he'd planned to meet up with two of his buddies, seniors Roger Duenkler and Kevin Mutz, but hadn't seen them. He asked if I had. I hadn't. That's literally the end of the scene. It skips to a different scene after. It's completely unimportant and has no lead-off to the next scene/chapter. Much of the book is written in this way (Tylene goes into detail over how her husband likes his soup, for example.) I also think that this book might've been bogged down by too much research. I know that seems a little crazy, but it's true. The novel covers the course of a little over one week, all the way up to the season's first Friday night game (don't even get me started on how sudden that ending was.) The story is constantly stalled so that the backstories of minor characters can be regurgitated for readers who, most likely, don't care that much. For instance, the book spent a whole page going on about one of the school's employees who moved from Pennsylvania and found himself in Texas, and it doesn't really matter. This character isn't all that important (I can't even remember his name.) It happens with pretty much every single character we run into, so it's slow going. So while I appreciate the fact that the author wanted to bring a little-known story to the masses, I don't think that the execution of this book lived up to the hype. I went in expecting a feel-good sports movie (Remember the Titans, Rudy, The Blind Side? Anyone?) in book form. But that's not what happened. Unfortunately, I'm left a little wanting with this one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

    First off I received this book as a giveaway from William Morrow. And for that I say thank you. I am not a big fan of American Football, but I still enjoyed this story that was based on a real person. And this story was very faith based, so it crosses genres over into Christian Fiction. The main character of this story had many obstacles to overcome and she did it with her best face forward. This story also makes for a good North American fall read. Especially since it is set during High School fo First off I received this book as a giveaway from William Morrow. And for that I say thank you. I am not a big fan of American Football, but I still enjoyed this story that was based on a real person. And this story was very faith based, so it crosses genres over into Christian Fiction. The main character of this story had many obstacles to overcome and she did it with her best face forward. This story also makes for a good North American fall read. Especially since it is set during High School football season.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    This is a debut Historical Fiction novel based on a true story set during WWII in the heart of Texas. This was a quick, light and fun read. It was character driven. The characters were very detailed. They were likable and they all had purpose with their own story to tell. There wasn't much world building other than what came through from all of the characters....their thoughts, actions, emotion, etc. But that was okay...not a deal breaker. A vice principal steps up to coach the high school footb This is a debut Historical Fiction novel based on a true story set during WWII in the heart of Texas. This was a quick, light and fun read. It was character driven. The characters were very detailed. They were likable and they all had purpose with their own story to tell. There wasn't much world building other than what came through from all of the characters....their thoughts, actions, emotion, etc. But that was okay...not a deal breaker. A vice principal steps up to coach the high school football team because there is no one else who can or will do it....but it turns out that the vice principal is a woman. The community is in a bit of a snit that a woman is stepping out of 'her place'. If she didn't step forward, the football program would have been cancelled and these boys might be off to war sooner than later. Overall, this was a little predictable, but there was enough drama that moved at a nice pace that kept me hooked....so 4 stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    michele

    I got this book as an uncorrected proof at a Book Expo. What an uplifting, powerful, and moving book that touched on the subjects of war, loss, and hope. But what I loved most about this book was it's reminder of what life was like for women back in the '40s and the social constraints they endured because they weren't seen as equal to men. I would recommend this book be added to a school's summer reading list as it is both entertaining and educational. And I wouldn't be surprised if it was made in I got this book as an uncorrected proof at a Book Expo. What an uplifting, powerful, and moving book that touched on the subjects of war, loss, and hope. But what I loved most about this book was it's reminder of what life was like for women back in the '40s and the social constraints they endured because they weren't seen as equal to men. I would recommend this book be added to a school's summer reading list as it is both entertaining and educational. And I wouldn't be surprised if it was made into a movie. I was astounded when I learned that it was based off of a real individual and I feel like this is a story, and lesson, that needs to be heard on a large scale.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    If the Hallmark Channel wrote a love note to Texas women and football, it would be this book. TX, WWII. Brownwood needs a football coach; the last 2 went to war and one came back dead. If the boys don’t have football, they’ll also go to war and they’ll also die. So it’s up to the super-capable, ridiculously perfect Tylene Wilson, born 1900 and indoctrinated to her love of football in 1905, to step in. I was disappointed in how saccharine this story is. Tylene is far too perfect, the town is far to If the Hallmark Channel wrote a love note to Texas women and football, it would be this book. TX, WWII. Brownwood needs a football coach; the last 2 went to war and one came back dead. If the boys don’t have football, they’ll also go to war and they’ll also die. So it’s up to the super-capable, ridiculously perfect Tylene Wilson, born 1900 and indoctrinated to her love of football in 1905, to step in. I was disappointed in how saccharine this story is. Tylene is far too perfect, the town is far too perfect, the mens' outrage at the idea of a lady coach is painfully trite, it’s all so fake. I feel like this is the America some people are trying to make Great Again, like this is what they may think we're going back to - a time when women worked a woman's job, got home and made dinner, then coached football in 1-inch heels and pearls but only out of necessity and pure altruism. Bonus: Racism didn't exist, at least not in this town, and sexism was rampant but ignorable. Our hero, Tylene, who battles against the tide of unpopular opinion in order to keep the high school seniors safe from enlisting for one more year, likes to tell stories. She hearkens back to times past on the regular so the reader can get a constant supply of backstory. Sometimes, she does this to explain why she loves football, other times she does this to explain to people suffering from PTSD that everyone has known trauma so WW2 vets really ought to put their pain into perspective. I don't know how factual this story about a person who really lived and coached in Brownwood, TX, was. I mean, I assume her records were searched and the facts of her life (parents, rickets, tornadoes, the football team and who they played and the coaches who went to war, etc) were accurate but I question that because Tylene calls her parents "Mom" and "Dad." I do not know a single grownass proud born-n-bred Texan woman who calls her parents Mom and Dad. They all use Mama/Mother and Daddy. If they have been relocated to other places, they may refer to their parents as Mom and Dad to fit in but when they're on the phone to home, they use Mama/Mother and Daddy. With that in mind, who even knows how accurate this is. I mean, I could find out but I don't really want to spend that much time researching a woman who was made so painfully boring in this story. 1.5 stars

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Based on the true story of Tylene Wilson, a woman who stepped in to coach the high school football team in the early 1940s. Set in Brownwood, Texas where football reigns supreme. As a young girl, Tylene spent time with her father tossing the football, and the two rarely missed a Friday night Brownwood game. She developed a passion for the game and could diagram plays to rival those of the coach. So when their current football coach, along with most of the eligible men, was off fighting in WWII, Based on the true story of Tylene Wilson, a woman who stepped in to coach the high school football team in the early 1940s. Set in Brownwood, Texas where football reigns supreme. As a young girl, Tylene spent time with her father tossing the football, and the two rarely missed a Friday night Brownwood game. She developed a passion for the game and could diagram plays to rival those of the coach. So when their current football coach, along with most of the eligible men, was off fighting in WWII, Tylene feared her senior boys would enlist early if she couldn't find a solution to not allow the season to be cancelled. She has the support of the principal, but the townspeople, the press, the other coaches, the refs, and even some of the players are in opposition to Tylene coaching. Can Tylene overcome these obstacles to save the season? A great story about a woman making her mark in a male dominanted sport, and breaking the glass ceiling for future generations of women.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mayda

    Football was part of everyone’s life in Brownwood, Texas. The men taught their sons, the coaches led their teams, the girls cheered them on, and everyone came to the games every Friday night during football season. High school football meant everything to this town, and everyone knew their place. At least that’s the way it was until the war took the men. Now, most of the men eligle to coach the high school team were either serving overseas or had paid the ultimate price of freedom with their liv Football was part of everyone’s life in Brownwood, Texas. The men taught their sons, the coaches led their teams, the girls cheered them on, and everyone came to the games every Friday night during football season. High school football meant everything to this town, and everyone knew their place. At least that’s the way it was until the war took the men. Now, most of the men eligle to coach the high school team were either serving overseas or had paid the ultimate price of freedom with their lives. Without a coach, the school board would have to cancel the season. Tylene Wilson, school administrator, had grown up learning about football from her dad, and knew the boys, especially the seniors, needed football as much as the town did. But when her efforts to find a male coach fell through, she decided to step up to the plate. She knew she could coach, if she were allowed to coach. But being accepted as a coach was another thing entirely. Though met with resistance from nearly every corner and everyone, she persevered. Base on a true story, this novel is a tale of one woman’s stubborn desire to do what was needed and what was right, to show “her boys” - the team - the true meaning of sportsmanship and what playing football really meant. Well written with strong characters, especially with a strong female character, author Marjorie Herrera Lewis has penned an inspirational story that has lessons for us all in its pages.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Judy

    Another "based on a true story" that I completely missed it was true! A very fast and easy read that at times had me saying "are you serious??" while reading. Reminding me a little bit of "Wildcats" with Goldie Hawn, 'When the Men Were Gone' was a great story about a town in Texas whose high school football season was severely affected by the war and the strong woman that stepped up and became the football coach despite the verbal and mental abuse that she was subjected to by some of the players Another "based on a true story" that I completely missed it was true! A very fast and easy read that at times had me saying "are you serious??" while reading. Reminding me a little bit of "Wildcats" with Goldie Hawn, 'When the Men Were Gone' was a great story about a town in Texas whose high school football season was severely affected by the war and the strong woman that stepped up and became the football coach despite the verbal and mental abuse that she was subjected to by some of the players, the parents, the townsfolk and even her close friends. While the story portrays only one game, of what I presume was a full season, that first game was intense. The amount of ridicule and mockery that Tylene Wilson (a real person!) had to endure just to provide the high school seniors one more year of 'normal' before having to be shipped off to war was inspiring and motivating that sometimes you only get one chance to do what you love, and you shouldn't let that opportunity pass you by.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dayle (the literary llama)

    A quick read with some shining moments and spotlight on another role that women fought to fill during WWII. The coaching chapters were by far the best and incredibly interesting and easy to get caught up in. But it also lacked plot focus in areas, with a lot of detailed filler that eventually felt unnecessary to the overall story arc (even though they were probably the factual parts of the history that the author wanted to convey). It was mostly the quick backstories on every minor character tha A quick read with some shining moments and spotlight on another role that women fought to fill during WWII. The coaching chapters were by far the best and incredibly interesting and easy to get caught up in. But it also lacked plot focus in areas, with a lot of detailed filler that eventually felt unnecessary to the overall story arc (even though they were probably the factual parts of the history that the author wanted to convey). It was mostly the quick backstories on every minor character that started to stall the flow. When the author focused on Tylene’s history with her husband and parents, it felt more in tune and focused, as well as a more natural part of this story. The dialogue was a little “made-for-tv-movie”, sort of stilted and overly optimistic and sweet. Not entirely my cup of tea, but it also didn’t completely overshadow the story the author was trying to tell. The book does have a lot of heart as well as courage in the face of adversity. It was definitely a story worth telling. The ending wasn’t great, mainly because it seemed to cut off so abruptly. That’s where the author chose to end it, and I respect that, it was a sweet little moment that connected Tylene with her husband and reiterated why she has the passion she does for the boys she coached and not just a love of football. But it still left me wanting. I at least expected a few quick sentences for key people as an epilogue. You know, how they generally do at the end of movies that are based on true stories. Overall, I was glad to have a little insight into this area of history, even through a fictionalization.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Ross

    When I first saw the cover of this novel, I immediately remembered one of my favorite movies, "Summer of '42." The movie brilliantly details the adolescent lives and times of two boys too young to go off to WW II, the heartbreak of a young war widow, and how those life streams connect. The brilliance of Marjorie's based-on-a-true-story novel is that, like the movie did, it distills the life and times of people facing far-off WW II into a local conflict that they must battle hand to hand. The prim When I first saw the cover of this novel, I immediately remembered one of my favorite movies, "Summer of '42." The movie brilliantly details the adolescent lives and times of two boys too young to go off to WW II, the heartbreak of a young war widow, and how those life streams connect. The brilliance of Marjorie's based-on-a-true-story novel is that, like the movie did, it distills the life and times of people facing far-off WW II into a local conflict that they must battle hand to hand. The primary battle is sexism: protagonist Tylene (a real person) is the best choice to be the school's football coach, but the men in the decision chain are skeptical—and her opposing coaches are rudely dismissive. We look back through our long lenses to those days and just shake our heads today. But this was another time and place that Majorie has reborn and given life. Tylene was a real person in the Texas school football continuum, and her "factional" depiction is fully realized as a caring, football-loving teacher and school supporter who just wants to do the best thing for everyone. She infuses even her skeptical football team with energy and directs them with skill, finally overcoming the last barrier when a teammate's brother, a former school football stand-out now injured, gives his support. In the end, they lose the Big Game, but they are victorious in pride and self-worth. This is "Friday Night Lights" crossed with DNA from "Summer of '42." It has a little Sisyphean top-spin, with tasks that are both laborious and futile. The coaching trials compete with Tylene's effort to rescue a former student and football star from the life-eroding effects of his war wounds; with keeping her marriage happy and functioning; and occasionally, with her own self-doubt. This is a finely tuned, lyrical story that evokes a time long past but mostly fondly remembered, the war years when Americans all pulled together to fight the Hun while mostly ignoring the social battles on the home front because that's what they always did then. The Greatest Generation at war sometimes wasn't so great back home. Marjorie's seminal work will one day be taught in high school English Lit classes. Full disclosure: I'm proud to say I shared an MFA program with her for a time, but it's clear she paid closer attention than I did. I'm told this story has been optioned for a movie, and that's great news. But like one often says, the book is better. Five Stars: One for any writer facing the anxiety of a blank page; one for an ignored story uncovered and illuminated well; one for finely drawn characters who come to life on the page and in the reader’s mind; one for a terrific cover; and one because I'm happy to think this is just the start of a wonderful career full of great reading for us all. Strongly, unequivocally recommended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth☮

    My reading year isn't off to an illustrious start. I read this for my Face to Face book club (which I don't always attend, but I like to read what is suggested). What I liked about this book is it introduced me to a woman, Tylene Wilson, that coached football in a small town in Texas during WWII. I am from Texas and I like to know about moments in Texas history. So thanks Ms. Herrera Lewis for introducing me to Tylene. I just didn't feel the story is well developed and flushed out. The chapters a My reading year isn't off to an illustrious start. I read this for my Face to Face book club (which I don't always attend, but I like to read what is suggested). What I liked about this book is it introduced me to a woman, Tylene Wilson, that coached football in a small town in Texas during WWII. I am from Texas and I like to know about moments in Texas history. So thanks Ms. Herrera Lewis for introducing me to Tylene. I just didn't feel the story is well developed and flushed out. The chapters are short and the writing is lacking in detail. It feels like an article, which makes sense since Herrera Lewis comes from a journalism background. There will be points to discuss in book club, but I feel like the writing will not be highlighted also.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine

    Quick read. The story had a ton of potential but the writing wasn’t quite there.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan Peterson

    Thank you, Marjorie Lewis, for telling Tylene’s story! I read this book in one afternoon! I was thoroughly engrossed and moved emotionally by her story. Although the premise of this story is how a woman came to coach a high school football team in Texas during WWII, a fascinating story on its own, this book is about so much more than that. There were so many times that I wiped tears from my eyes, as the families dealt with the loss of sons and brothers during the war. Aside from football, the hi Thank you, Marjorie Lewis, for telling Tylene’s story! I read this book in one afternoon! I was thoroughly engrossed and moved emotionally by her story. Although the premise of this story is how a woman came to coach a high school football team in Texas during WWII, a fascinating story on its own, this book is about so much more than that. There were so many times that I wiped tears from my eyes, as the families dealt with the loss of sons and brothers during the war. Aside from football, the high school boys who played for Tylene were also playing for their present, since their future was uncertain as war waged on. This is a story which will stay in my heart for a long time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    "There's something special about Texas football . . . I can't tell you how many times I've looked at a Texas sunset only to see a goalpost cut through the yellow and red splashed across the sky." Both sides of the Red River, whether Oklahoma or Texas, folks simply LOVE Friday nights and High School football! These communities and towns are unified and strengthened because of it. That certainly was the case growing up in Yukon, Oklahoma. And that is why I LOVE this debut novel. It's not perfect. T "There's something special about Texas football . . . I can't tell you how many times I've looked at a Texas sunset only to see a goalpost cut through the yellow and red splashed across the sky." Both sides of the Red River, whether Oklahoma or Texas, folks simply LOVE Friday nights and High School football! These communities and towns are unified and strengthened because of it. That certainly was the case growing up in Yukon, Oklahoma. And that is why I LOVE this debut novel. It's not perfect. There's plenty room for growth. But the story - born in facts and built upon interpretive hope - is a tale of epic love; love for the game; love for community; love for the preservation of youth. A love that stands tall in the face of fear and ignorant discrimination - even when nobody else is left to stand with you. "Every road in Texas leads to a football field. You pass by one, and you swear you can smell the leather of a well-worn helmet. You sit in the stands alone at dusk, stare at the field, and you can see the footprints of every football player who ever suited up, some so quick they left defenders in their stocking feet." Five Star Story with three and four star components. FOUR STAR SWEEP!

  15. 4 out of 5

    CLM

    It's Autumn 1944, and with all the young men heading off to WWII there is no one left to coach the high school football team except Assistant Principal Tylene Wilson. But not everyone is in favor of a woman taking on a man's job . . . My review: http://perfectretort.blogspot.com/201...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Schultz

    3 + Stars Selected for our August book Club discussion. The Marjorie Herrera Lewis will be attending. I’ll add comments after our meeting. In the meantime, it was a fun, quick read! Monday August 12, 2019 Book Club discussion with author Marjorie Herrera Lewis was great :) Inside info on the research that went into writing the novel also about upcoming movie!!!!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    Book Club selection for February. 212 pages. One-day read. Five stars? OK, this isn't a Middlemarch kind of five-star book, but this really got the stars legitimately in my reaction. Based on a true story --check. Set during World War II, one of my favorite periods of history--check. A feminist story without being a "feminist" story--check. A story of family, the kind you come home to and the kind you build in your community--check. A bit of a coming-of-age story (one of my favorite genres)--chec Book Club selection for February. 212 pages. One-day read. Five stars? OK, this isn't a Middlemarch kind of five-star book, but this really got the stars legitimately in my reaction. Based on a true story --check. Set during World War II, one of my favorite periods of history--check. A feminist story without being a "feminist" story--check. A story of family, the kind you come home to and the kind you build in your community--check. A bit of a coming-of-age story (one of my favorite genres)--check. Set in Texas (not so important anymore, but when the author is Texan enough to write "Dr Pepper" with no period, I consider it worthy)--check. Add in good, clear, lyrical writing plus moving me to tears (Several times! While I sat in the chair getting a pedicure!), and I don't feel like I have compromised my degree in English literature by giving this novel its five stars.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Isaacson

    Wonderful read with compelling characters that draw you in instantly and capture your heart. This is an amazing debut novel by Marjorie Herrera Lewis.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Arica Lingerfelt

    Love the story! Love this story about a woman who took a chance in a non female role and created a positive change in a community!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kales

    When I met the author for this book, I was so impressed. I thought, "Now here is a WWII historical fiction that I want to read!" So I did. And honestly...this should have been a screenplay. It's rare that I say this. But I think I have some street cred here when it comes to playwriting and screenwriting (not a ton, but enough to make this argument). This shouldn't have been a book. This story needed to be told with a visual medium and it's short enough anyway, it could have worked. And it still c When I met the author for this book, I was so impressed. I thought, "Now here is a WWII historical fiction that I want to read!" So I did. And honestly...this should have been a screenplay. It's rare that I say this. But I think I have some street cred here when it comes to playwriting and screenwriting (not a ton, but enough to make this argument). This shouldn't have been a book. This story needed to be told with a visual medium and it's short enough anyway, it could have worked. And it still could happen, but I firmly believe that the fact that this is a book is where a lot of my problems with this stem from. First off, it's really short. And I get why. But it felt like there were paragraphs of silly back story about this woman or that man from the town and how Tylene knew them and then they never showed up again. It' was a waste of space and slowed the story down. It could be cleaner, but then the book would only be about 100 pages and that wouldn't work. Hence, movie. Also, I know football, rather well I would say for a theater nerd, book-loving geek like myself. But the terminology was a drag. While I completely respect Tylene (and the author) for knowing their stuff and being able to impress the men with their knowledge, I just didn't care. If you don't know the plays and the lingo, it can be hard to picture what's going on in the book. It's SO technical that it can be hard to follow if you don't know enough about the game. If we could see what was going on, with music to influence our mood, I believe it would have more impact. Hence, movie. I adored Tylene. As a woman and a character she is amazing and completely agree that her story should be told. A la FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS or MIRACLE. All those heroic amazing sports movies, yeah, this should be one of them. This book also had a unique take on the war. We weren't following some secret spy organization who helped defeat the Nazis. It was the people left at home, watching their men come back in body bags. Maybe it's just me, but I haven't read a lot of WWII historical fictions featuring those left behind and I thought it was refreshing from this book. Needless to say, I have a lot of positive things to say about this book and it's an incredible story. But this medium is not the way to tell this story. It can be so much more as a movie. I really hope it gets the chance to become one someday. Conclusion: Keep (maybe adapt into a screenplay haha)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Devon H

    Heavy on the football and the feminism, this is a historical fiction novel to look out for featuring a small town in Texas in 1944. Miss Tylene Wilson is the assistant principal at Brownwood High School, and she's got her work cut out for her. However, she's concerned for a new reason this season, and it's that football might be cancelled due to WWII's toll on the male population. Tylene's been an avid football fan all her life, for reasons that are more personal than she tends to let on, but as Heavy on the football and the feminism, this is a historical fiction novel to look out for featuring a small town in Texas in 1944. Miss Tylene Wilson is the assistant principal at Brownwood High School, and she's got her work cut out for her. However, she's concerned for a new reason this season, and it's that football might be cancelled due to WWII's toll on the male population. Tylene's been an avid football fan all her life, for reasons that are more personal than she tends to let on, but as a woman she's never been able to play the game she loves so much. Without the coach there to support the senior boys, how can she keep them on the field and out of the war? I was surprised by how fast paced this historical fiction novel centered around football was. I'm not big into football, and as a result I found I learned some basic elements of the game. Tylene's back story as to why she grew up playing football and her motivation for her continued love of the game was moving, and I appreciated how Lewis was able to tie together various tragic themes throughout the book. In the end, it seems the struggles of each of the characters was what brought them together.  This book wasn't as much a history lesson as it was a character themed story, but I was okay with that. The setting didn't feed into the plot too much other than a reason why the men were gone and an impetus for the main challenges throughout the story. It is easy to set up a basic feminist story where a woman can take the lead when men are not there. For the same reason this book was able to succeed as a feminist novel, is also where it fell short for me. The resistance of the crowd to have a female coach seemed like a tired plot point, and everyone's hesitations including Miss Tylene felt overly dramatized. Perhaps this is my own experience in reading this book, as I tend to read plenty of feminist literature. I can see this book being an excellent crossover book for someone who likes football or history looking to dip their toes into some light feminism. I can also see this being a good snapshot for high schoolers, as the subject matter is pretty mild, there is no language and no adult themes.  The other area this book was lacking was in it's world building. Lewis doesn't add many descriptions in this book, and at the same time there wasn't a lot put on the readers to imagine. Only a few scenes were described using sensory descriptions, so I have a limited picture of how the story would play out in images. This was also a bit of a drawback, as even the football scenes were hard to imagine for someone who hasn't spent much time on a field. Historical fiction have a lot to offer in terms of atmosphere, and I think Lewis could have done more exploration with her descriptions.  John and Tylene have the sweetest relationship, and they seemed so in tune with each other. They seemed to always be able to tell when the other was distracted or bothered, and they cared for each other with small sweet gestures.  Overall, this book was a quick and predictable yet satisfactory read. I enjoyed the community feelings that Lewis portrayed throughout the book. I was pleasantly surprised by how mild the overall storyline was, yet how fast paced the writing was in spite of that. Lewis definitely kept the story moving, and was quick to give respite in the form of John.  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via Harper Luxe and Edelweiss.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Thanks to LibraryThing and Wm. Morrow for this ARC. I love books about strong women and this was one of them. Who would have thought in the 1940's a woman coaching a football team during the war because one coach was dead due to the war and the other was serving? Tylene who was an assistant principal and a former English teacher at this school, was determined to do so even with practically the whole town and some players against this. She grew up loving footfall and knowing much more than a lot o Thanks to LibraryThing and Wm. Morrow for this ARC. I love books about strong women and this was one of them. Who would have thought in the 1940's a woman coaching a football team during the war because one coach was dead due to the war and the other was serving? Tylene who was an assistant principal and a former English teacher at this school, was determined to do so even with practically the whole town and some players against this. She grew up loving footfall and knowing much more than a lot of coaches and proved it to be sure. I won't give it away and spoil the ending or the final score. I cried a few times since she loved the game so much, and knew she could do it due to her love of the game and thanks to her father who encouraged her to play catch with him. Didn't realize this was based on a true story until I read the questions and answers with the author. I'd definitely read others by her. Quite a debut. A feel good book and so glad I won this.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Diane Standish

    Great story Based on a true story about a woman who coached a high school football team during world war 2. This was a great story, about a woman of great tenacity, and who knew the game of football inside and out. The opposition she faced because she was a woman was significant, but her courage knew no bounds. A truly inspiring story especially for this time. She didn't make excuses, she didn't let the world tell her she couldn't, she didn't play the victim. Highly recommend . Lots of football j Great story Based on a true story about a woman who coached a high school football team during world war 2. This was a great story, about a woman of great tenacity, and who knew the game of football inside and out. The opposition she faced because she was a woman was significant, but her courage knew no bounds. A truly inspiring story especially for this time. She didn't make excuses, she didn't let the world tell her she couldn't, she didn't play the victim. Highly recommend . Lots of football jargon too, so you ought to understand football plays and such to really enjoy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    There is nothing about football that interests me except this book. I'm totally confounded by how Marjorie Herrera Lewis kept me enrapt in a football story. Ok, it's not really a football story. It's a story of how a woman's strength, courage, and skill prevailed against the odds. Marjorie's story structure is a role model for establishing plot. I made note of how she added obstacle upon obstacle upon obstacle and raised the stakes for the characters. Just when you think the character's situation There is nothing about football that interests me except this book. I'm totally confounded by how Marjorie Herrera Lewis kept me enrapt in a football story. Ok, it's not really a football story. It's a story of how a woman's strength, courage, and skill prevailed against the odds. Marjorie's story structure is a role model for establishing plot. I made note of how she added obstacle upon obstacle upon obstacle and raised the stakes for the characters. Just when you think the character's situation couldn't become more dire, it did. You go, Marjorie. Boy, I loved that our heroine wore pearls and heels on the football field.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    A little bit Remeber the Titans and Friday Night Lights. This historical fiction read is based on a true story about a woman stepping up to coach a Texas high school football team after previous coaches were lost in WW2 action or enlisted. Her father instilled her love and knowledge of the game at a young age (like mine). But more than that her concern for the boys enlisting for war prematurely if the season was cancelled drove her determination. It was a sad time and a very different team so ge A little bit Remeber the Titans and Friday Night Lights. This historical fiction read is based on a true story about a woman stepping up to coach a Texas high school football team after previous coaches were lost in WW2 action or enlisted. Her father instilled her love and knowledge of the game at a young age (like mine). But more than that her concern for the boys enlisting for war prematurely if the season was cancelled drove her determination. It was a sad time and a very different team so getting to kick off was no easy task. A wonderful debut by a former Dallas Cowboys beat reporter, and a football coach. And yep, she is a woman! Be sure to read the author Q&A.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I rarely watch football and understand only the basics of the game so those details in the book were gibberish to me, but the story was brilliant anyway. I was really rooting for Tylene, Moose and the boys. I wished there was just a little more information about the real life Tylene at the end such as how long she coached, what her win/loss record was etc. but the story as told was nicely complete. (view spoiler)[and wonderfully not the cliche sports ending (hide spoiler)] Popsugar 2019: A novel I rarely watch football and understand only the basics of the game so those details in the book were gibberish to me, but the story was brilliant anyway. I was really rooting for Tylene, Moose and the boys. I wished there was just a little more information about the real life Tylene at the end such as how long she coached, what her win/loss record was etc. but the story as told was nicely complete. (view spoiler)[and wonderfully not the cliche sports ending (hide spoiler)] Popsugar 2019: A novel based on a true story

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jj Grilliette

    I would have preferred a non-fiction version with more information about the rest of the season and maybe what happened to some of the boys that played football that year. Were they drafted? What happened? Did any of them say she really helped them? I liked at the end of the book where the author said what was true. I also liked hearing about the author and why she wanted to right about this woman.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elise

    A unique look at how rituals we take for granted were at risk of being shelved during WWII. A woman sets out to coach her high school football team in small town Texas but stereotyping the sexes gets in the way. A great quick read about a period in history.

  29. 5 out of 5

    RivkaBelle

    I'm a football girl. Like Tylene, I became a football girl in the stands of the local HS team on Friday nights. I often and regularly "joke" about taking over coaching duties for said local team and/or an NFL franchise. We've all heard the stories of women working in the factories and other holes the men left behind during the war - but one I'd never thought about before was on the sidelines. This was a fascinating story, made even better by being based in truth. There's football, there's histor I'm a football girl. Like Tylene, I became a football girl in the stands of the local HS team on Friday nights. I often and regularly "joke" about taking over coaching duties for said local team and/or an NFL franchise. We've all heard the stories of women working in the factories and other holes the men left behind during the war - but one I'd never thought about before was on the sidelines. This was a fascinating story, made even better by being based in truth. There's football, there's history, there's small-town flavor, there's pain and promise and an all-around glorious story. Go Lions!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lee Woodruff

    We’re all familiar with Rosie the Riveter, the iconic image of WW2 and the women who went to the factories when the men went to war. Until now, the story of Tylene Wilson has stayed hidden from the history books. In 1944, football crazed Brownwood Texas had no one to coach the high school football team with every able bodied man at war. Tylene is a football fanatic, who knows as much about the sport as any man when she offers to coach the team. But the town wasn’t quite ready for a female coach We’re all familiar with Rosie the Riveter, the iconic image of WW2 and the women who went to the factories when the men went to war. Until now, the story of Tylene Wilson has stayed hidden from the history books. In 1944, football crazed Brownwood Texas had no one to coach the high school football team with every able bodied man at war. Tylene is a football fanatic, who knows as much about the sport as any man when she offers to coach the team. But the town wasn’t quite ready for a female coach and she must persevere through ridicule, opposition, rival coaches, angry referees and even other women who are indignant over her position. In the end, she wins the hearts of all of her players. The author, a Texan and a sports writer, became one of the first female football coaches in the country when she joined Texas Wesleyan University in 2017. She was inspired enough by the story of Tylene that she wrote a whole darned b

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