It's going to be hard to decide what readers will enjoy John Grisham's latest novel, Playing for Pizza. It will be for those readers who enjoyed Bleachers, but not all of them. Perhaps it's for those who enjoy football and Italy. Right off the bat, I'll say I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure who I'll give it to next.
Rick Dockery is a washed-up third string quarterback. He was cut from the Cleveland Browns after he ended up in a playoff game, and proceeded to throw away a seventeen point lead. His agent can't find him a job on any NFL team, however the Parma Panthers would love to have him. That's Parma, Italy, where they have a team that plays football americano. Rick flees to Italy as a way to escape a paternity case
When Rick arrives in Italy, he's a stereotypical American football player. His new coach, Sam Russo, knows that he's in for culture shock, facing the language, the small cars, the cities. Food and women might help him over it. In Rick's case, it doesn't hurt that his new teammates, who play for the love of the game, pizza and beer, see him as their savior, the American quarterback who will help them win their Super Bowl.
Grisham's novel is a heartwarming story of a man who becomes part of a team and a city. For the first time in years, Rick Dockery is accepted, and finds people who know he's better than his past history. The book is funny and warm, with beautiful descriptions of Italy and its food. The story honors everyone who cares so much for a game that they play with gusto and heart. Playing for Pizza is a celebration of the passionate love of a game, and of life.
Playing for Pizza by John Grisham. Doubleday, ©2007. ISBN 978-0-385-52500-8 (hardcover), 262p.