3 out of 4 stars
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Luke Carter opts to teach boys’ football at Pacer Coulee School in rural Montana to escape his turbulent past. Madison Danielsen, the basketball coach, is also recuperating from a messy divorce. Appointed by Edna Coffman, the formidable chairperson of the school board, they prepare themselves to resolve the issues preventing their teams from winning the local tournaments. However, getting the players to work together and recruiting new talents seem easier than admitting their newfound attraction to each other. With the entire town rooting for them, will they overcome their pasts and start afresh? Will their decision affect the teams’ prospects in the fall sports season? To know, you have to read Pacer Coulee Chronicles by Wayne Edwards.
Rural sports served as the touchstone for the novel; however, Edwards kept the technical details and strategy discussions limited to the game scenes. Instead, the book explored the socio-economic, religious, and cultural practices of small-scale American towns. In these close-knit communities, everyone looked out for others. A strong sense of team spirit was palpable in each member of the community. This easy camaraderie, along with the romantic elements of the novel, made for a satisfying read.
The greatest strength of the book was its cast of well-portrayed characters. Each made unique contributions to the story. Their distinctive traits were so elaborately detailed that I felt Edwards must have based them on real-life characters. I loved how Tank Hollister’s heavyweight physique belied a gentle demeanor. I felt deep reverence to the stern yet good-hearted Edna, whose sharp tongue kept hidden a caring personality. Edna’s continuous banter with her childhood friends amused me to no end. The boisterous teens and the aged members of the “morning coffee club” kept the story engaging with their latest piece of gossip.
Edwards discussed some pertinent issues in his book, including child abuse and sexual abuse. Generally, such stories showcase the lingering effects of the abuse on the victim’s psyche. However, this novel adopted an unconventional approach. Edwards showed that despite suffering from severe trauma, the subjects could make conscious decisions not to turn out like their abusive parents and could harbor protective feelings for others.
What I did not like about the book were the chapter headings. Instead of using numbers or cryptic titles, Edwards incorporated sentences like “EDNA HIRES LUKE TO READY THE RENTALS” or “EDNA GETS A VISIT FROM THE SHERIFF.” These descriptive headings deprived the readers of the thrill of gradually unfolded future events. Also, the game scenes could use more suspense instead of being a play-by-play commentary.
I rate the novel 3 out of 4 stars, deducting one star for the issues mentioned. From a technical standpoint, I found very few errors. However, there was a profusion of swear words in the dialogues. I would recommend this book to late teens to adults, especially if they are fascinated by rural sports. Also, anyone who appreciates a character-driven story can take up this book. However, the excessive use of profanities and the instances of abuse might be unsuitable for younger readers.
Pacer Coulee Chronicles
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