At my last Rochester bookcrossing meetup, I picked up two books that aren't my usual fare. I tend to collect books that fall into the categories that I like and read most, but I love variety so when I manage to procure unusual (for me) books I sometimes end up reading them right away.
I'll write about one of the books. The other book I picked up was Hold Tight by Harlan Coben. I'm not going to write anything substantive about it because I found it forgettable (thrillers shouldn't be forgettable should they?). I didn't even remember what it was about until I peeked at the synopsis when I was preparing the link for this post. I read both of these books in late September or early October.
Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
While I know that Grisham has branched out, I have to admit that I associate him exclusively with the legal thriller genre. Not that legal thrillers are bad (I read a bunch of Grisham's early novels when I was a teen), but I don't find myself drawn to them. I picked up Playing for Pizza because the title, cover art, and synopsis were enough to help me get past the author's name.
Following quarterback Rick Dockery during his most successful season as a professional athlete, Playing for Pizza is the story of a delayed coming of age.
Dockery's NFL three-season career has been an unmitigated disaster. After he blows the AFC championship game for his team by throwing three interceptions in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter he is blacklisted by every single NFL team. The only team willing to take a chance on Dockery is the Panthers, the Parma Panthers of the Italian Football League. Though he isn't keen on the idea, Dockery heads to Italy because he needs to get as far away from Cleveland (home of his ex-team, the Browns) as possible.
Both Parma and the Panthers are nothing like Dockery expects. Once he decides to give the country, the city, and the team a chance, his life begins to change. The longer he stays, the more he realizes what is truly important in life. He becomes more curious and less selfish and finally is able to think about what life will be like after his professional career is done.
I have to admit that I liked Playing for Pizza more than I thought I would. It's relatively short, but light and charming. As Dockery develops over the course of the novel he becomes a truly sympathetic character. And, while the novel is about football, it isn't so heavy on the jargon that it will put off readers who don't know much about the game.