Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Book Review: 'Friday Night Lights' by H. G. Bissinger

✰✰✰✰½ It’s Friday night in the late 80s, and the town of Odessa, Texas is deserted. Where has everyone gone? Chances are they went to the Permian High School football game. Follow the 1988 Permian Panthers as they face the ups and downs of a tough season including injuries, losses, and controversy.

With a steep tradition of winning, the young men on the team face incredible pressure to be perfect and deliver what everyone wants – another state championship. In an odd twist straight out of a movie, it could all end in a three-way coin toss. In a town that is larger than life, these young men will face the biggest challenge of theirs. Win or lose, this is the stuff of dreams and memories.

The Bottom Line: Sports fans will want to check out this pager-turner that inspired the movie and the TV series. With a main focus on sports, this book also takes a look at education, American culture, local history, economics, and politics. The updated version is just as riveting as it was when it was first published and features a look at where the young men are twenty-five years later. Still relevant today, Friday Night Lights” will keep you on the edge of your seat as you read (or reread) this classic sports story. Highly recommended for sports fans, educators, parents, students, and history buffs.

Book Club Notes: Although this group had a small turnout, the discussion about race, sports, and education was very animated. The book emphasized the importance of athletics over education time and again. There was also more concern about economic issues in the book than in the movie. Both the book and the movie feature racial tension with the book using strong language.  
Additionally, we spent some time discussing the obvious differences between the movie and the book. For example, McDougal isn’t even featured in the film, and the portrayal of Winchell’s mother in the move is not accurate.

Overall, we rated the book 4.5 on a scale from 1 – 5. We liked the journalistic writing style, and highly recommend both the book and the movie. Book clubs can find a Reading Group Guide here. Also, to supplement the discussion, here are more current articles of what the players are up to now: Article 1 and Article 2.

Details: Friday Night Lights: A Town, a team, and a dream by H. G. Bissinger. 25th Anniversary edition paperback published by Da Capo Press in 2015. 413 p. ISBN: 978-0-306-82420-3 

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