Version: Unabridged
Author: John Grisham
Narrator: John Grisham
Genres: Fiction & Literature
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published In: September 2003
# of Units: 4 CDs
Length: 4 hours, 30 minutes
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With Bleachers John Grisham departs again from the legal thriller to experiment with a character-driven tale of reunion, broken high school dreams, and missed chances. While the book falls short of the compelling storytelling that has made Grisham a bestselling author, it is nonetheless a diverting novella that succeeds as light fiction.

The story centers on the impending death of the Messina Spartans' football coach Eddie Rake. One of the most victorious coaches in high school football history, Rake is a man both loved and feared by his players and by a town that relishes his 13 state titles. The hero of the novel is Neely Crenshaw, a former Rake All-American whose NFL prospects ended abruptly after a cheap shot to the knees. Neely has returned home for the first time in years to join a nightly vigil for Rake at the Messina stadium. Having wandered through life with little focus since his college days, he struggles to reconcile his conflicted feelings towards his former coach, and he assays to rekindle love in the ex-girlfriend he abandoned long ago. For Messina and for Neely, the homecoming offers the prospect of building a life after Rake.

Physically a narrow book, Bleachers is a modest fiction in many respects. The emotional scope is akin to that of a short story, with a single-minded focus on explorations of nostalgia and regret. The dialogue, especially that of Neely's friend Paul Curry, is sometimes wooden as characters recall Messina history in paragraphs that were perhaps better left to the narrator. But Grisham has otherwise written a well-made, entertaining--if a bit sentimental--story.

Reviews (86)


Written by Anonymous from Athens, AL on March 1st, 2011

  • Book Rating: 1/5

The narrator was terrible. The story was not even good. I can't believe that John Grisham wrote this book!


Written by Betty from Ethel, AR on October 15th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 2/5

I like Grisham, but I don't like him reading his on book. It was a slow beginning, but I did like the ending.

Good but somewhat less than fulfilling

Written by Anonymous on July 16th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 4/5

when Simply AudioBooks sent me this book as a starter to my subscription, i was surprised and did not have very high hopes of the book. I must admit after reading/listening to it, that it was compelling & very interesting, but i thought the ending was somewhat less than fulfilling.


Written by Barbara on January 28th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Bleacher was a very good book. I would recommend this book to all of my friends.


Written by Cammi on January 13th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I think many athletes can relate to this tale of remembering a rough around the edges coach that has a place in your heart. For me it was my rowing coach in college - a bear of a man known across the country for his brisque mannerisms and volatile reputation. I tear up now just thinking of what life will be like without Coach. This story reminds us that through the good and bad, everyone remembers their own version, you still cherish and dont want to disappoint "Coach."

Great Characters

Written by jay salinger on September 6th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This book was short and sweet. Not your average Grisham. It was mostly a story about a bunch of characters with a little glue to make a nice story. Even at only 4 discs, it was a deep and complete story. I highly recommend it.

I loved this Book

Written by Anonymous on July 20th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This book brought me back to school. What a great book, everyone has teachers and friends that they think of when they think of high school What a great story. If you attended high school, you will love this book~~

Better if you like football

Written by Anonymous from Hannon, ON on June 5th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This book is a serious departure for Grisham's normal style. To listen to it, the book sounds more like a short story. There is a lot of football references (and even the full recount of a game at one point) so to enjoy football would help you enjoy the book. Still, the emotional ride the lead character takes you on is honest and meaningful - and a redeeming factor for those not crazy about football.


Written by Patricia Smith on May 16th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 1/5

Boring. Weak suspense and plot. Unable to keep all of the names straight.

bored to death

Written by Sandy Cooper on December 18th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 1/5

Unless your really into small town football - do not read this book. Very slow. I could not get past the first CD, and there are only 4 or 5 of them.

Author Details

Author Details

Grisham, John

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, he was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby—writing his first novel.

Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.

One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.

That might have put an end to Grisham's hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career—and spark one of publishing's greatest success stories. The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.

The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller.

Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, and The Broker) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 225 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marks his first foray into non-fiction.

Grisham lives with his wife Renee and their two children Ty and Shea. The family splits their time between their Victorian home on a farm in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, VA.

Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Preparing his case with the same passion and dedication as his books' protagonists, Grisham successfully argued his clients' case, earning them a jury award of $683,500—the biggest verdict of his career.

When he's not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including most recently his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised 8.8 million dollars for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also keeps up with his greatest passion: baseball. The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.