Playing for Pizza by John Grisham


Playing for Pizza is far from what is considered "typical John Grisham." The man has written 20+ books now, and the majority of those are legal thrillers. What's so refreshing about JG is that he doesn't stick to a template for his stories. They vary in many different ways, and are bound together primarily by the law and the name on the covers. However, JG does have a few novels that deviate completely from any sort of legalese. Playing for Pizza, released last year, is one of them.
I didn't read the book jacket, and had no idea what this books was about. (All I needed to know was that it was John Grisham.) Therefore, imagine my surprise when I began the first chapter and was launched headfirst into the world of football, a very foreign land to me! Just as my eyes began to glaze over, though, in snaps the main character (Rick Dockery), an NFL third-string quarterback who has done some serious and terminating damage to his career. As a last option, his agent scores him a position with the Italian equivalent of an NFL team, the Parma Panthers. Rick reluctantly heads off to Parma, Italy, and his experiences there with his new team and in Italy are life changing.
Because I don't know a lick about football (well, I suppose I know more now than I did), all of the game scenes might as well have been written in Arabic. I'm sure tons of people can appreciate that aspect of the book. For me, the real treat was learning about Italian culture. About a third of the way through it, I seriously wanted to go to Italy. By the last page, I felt as though I had been there already. That's Grisham for you.