Friday Night Lights
Da Capo Press
Note: One LA teacher at our school is doing a book to movie nonfiction unit and I offered to read some of the choices.
Friday Night Lights follows the 1988 Permian Panthers as they try to make it all the way to state. But this isn't really about the football as much as it's about the towns these games are played in. Football is the background to a story about dreams, hopes, poverty and racism. Friday Night Lights alternates between players as well as between the history of the town of Odessa, where Permian High is located, and the history of some of their biggest opponents.
Bissinger focuses on the racism and poverty prevalent in each town. Bissinger seemed eager to paint the picture of racism for me instead of letting me form my own conclusions. Not only did he tell me that many town residents didn't find the N word offensive, he proceeded to use it at least 30 times throughout the book and, let me tell you, Friday Night Lights is not Huckleberry Finn. We also learn how many in this town lost their money after a big oil bust. Bissinger gives a detailed account of how some of the parents of current players or former players got caught up in the materialism that was bred during the oil boom.
I found parts of this book fascinating but there were too many parts I wanted to skip over as Bissinger gets bogged down in the social dynamics of each place. I found myself looking forward to the football and I hate football. Friday Night Lights is a decent read if you understand there's more to Odessa than football. Had I known that I think I would have enjoyed the book more instead my expectations got in the way.
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