Thursday, October 04, 2018

Review: When the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis

Title: When the Men Were Gone
Author: Marjorie Herrera Lewis
Published: October 2018, William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: ARC Paperback, 240 pages
Source: Publisher

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.

"A wonderfully touching and beautiful story…Tylene makes me laugh, cry, and cheer for her in ways I have not done in a long time.”—Diane Les Bocquets, bestselling author of Breaking Wild  

It's a man's game, until now...
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.

My thoughts: It's not too often that I read a book that is focused on sports...not that I don't like sports, but it's not really my thing. But, something about this book just called to me, plus, it was set during the war and I love books set during the war. Especially ones that focus on women and their roles during that time. This book is a truly powerful that packs quite an emotional punch you aren't quite expecting.

This book is based on a true story and it's quite remarkable. It showcases the strength and determination one woman had to keep the young seniors in her high school from joining the war before their time. She wanted them to be boys as long as they could and without a football coach, feared they would run off and join the war a year early. Only problem was, there were no other viable options for a coach but her...and unfortunately a woman doing a man's job wasn't looked upon too favorably. She was met with opposition from all sides...including from some of the players.

What makes Tylene Wilson so remarkable, and what makes this story so powerful and emotional is just how she came to know so much about football. Of course, we get little bits of this sprinkled in throughout the book, but when the whole story is finally revealed - WOW! It's heart-stopping and makes you just appreciate her dedication and commitment to these boys all the more. 

I loved reading about such a strong, independent woman. And I liked that even though this book was set during the war, it focused on how people were impacted on the home front - how towns and families were affected. This little book packs quite a punch and will certainly be one I won't be forgetting anytime soon.



  1. This sounds so good! I also love war books and a good teacher/principal making a difference story. Great review, I'm going to have to pick this up!


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