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Hometown Legend
By Jerry B. Jenkins

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Hometown Legend

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Hometown Legend
Large Print Edition
By Jerry B. Jenkins
Warner Books - Large Print, (2001)
ISBN: 0-446-52998-2
Genre: Christian Fiction

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - September 10, 2001

Hometown Legend is, at its foundation, a novel about small town American life. It is about a town, Athens City, Alabama, that is facing financial ruin. They have two stars to pin their hopes on for a revival of the town - God and its former highschool championship football team, the Athens City Crusaders. In many regards, this novel explains why Christianity is so ingrained in the culture of small town America, and the role it plays in the cohesiveness of many small towns. It also serves to explain the inexplicable connection between Christianity and Football. It would appear, from my reading of this book, that American football is seen, on a subconscious level, as a cosmic battle between good and evil, with 'your' team, being of course, the good guys.

This book was written by Jerry B. Jenkins, the co-author of the Left Behind series. It is written in a conversational, homey style. Its primary narrator is Cal Sawyer, an ex-football player with a blown-out knee. As the story opens, the town is facing financial ruin as one business after another folds up its tents and slips away into the night. The one, last, big employer in the town, The American Leather Company may soon follow suit. Once they move away, many town residents will also have to go to, in search of a new job. Combined with all this sadness, the town's football team has only one last chance to reclaim their former glory. Their highschool is being consolidated with another school, so after this last season, the Athens City Crusaders will cease to exist. To help the team to one last glorious victory, the school enlists the help of Buster Schuler. Schuler is a man who once coached the team, but who quit after his son was killed during the 1988 state championship. But can he do it? Not only does Schuler have to overcome his own demons, but the team is also far from being championship material.

This novel is a piece of Christian fiction designed to inspire readers, both to develop their faith and to understand that God is on their side. A particularly prominent group in this novel is the Fellowship of Christian Athletes prayer warriors. The members of this groups are God's cheerleaders. Each member prays for 'their' player to overcome the forces of Satan disguised as the opposing teams players. As well, there is a great deal of 'witnessing'. For example, "She was just telling us her story, you know, how she was raised in a good Christian home but had to choose Jesus for herself." (Pg. 176.). In addition, Bible analogies abound, as well as direct biblical references.

If you like football, you'll find this novel intriguing. As will those readers that like heartwarming stories, of the milk-and-cookies variety. I found the Christian elements to be a bit strong for my liking. But otherwise I found this to be entertaining, and just a good old-fashioned, football yarn.


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