The Farewell Season by Anne Herrick

You can feel the excitement in the air. The sweet smell of freshly cut grass freshly churned dirt made from dozens of cleats, and the aroma of those few precious weeks between summer and fall float on the breeze. The sounds of clashing bodies and grunting opponents seems a fitting soundtrack to the ambience it inhabits. It’s the beginning of preseason football practices, and Eric Neilson, one the high school’s linebackers is amidst the battlefield that is the football field. But what most of his teammates don’t know is that Eric has also been fighting battles on a different war field and just how affected he is becoming by his time in the struggle.

It had only been four months since his father had passed. A father who was so largely involved with his football interest and subsequent achievements, that the pain of such a fresh wound was only becoming increasingly magnified each time he stepped out onto the field. With each practice his eyes would wander from his target to the unfilled space in the bleachers that his father used to occupy during his lunch hour to cheer his son on in the preseason. Soon however, he did notice the presence of someone new.  Glynnie, a girl who was known for her journalistic efforts with the local newspaper and was interviewing one of his teammates who was injured in search of a story for her column and had caught his attention by her quirky sense of style. Shortly after his acknowledgement of her, did she approach him in the hopes that he would allow her to interview him for her piece.  A most unlikely fit, Eric did not think much of Glynnie at first. But little did he know that the connection which awaited the two of them in the future would be the beginning of his accepting his grief, and becoming the man his father would have been proud of.

Just when he was least expecting it, and in the throes of his self-inflicted emotional torment, a bright spot began to shine through. This unexpected friendship with Glynnie started drawing more and more of his focus toward happier things. Toward things that could maybe make life seem normal again. Here was this girl whom he had overlooked for three years, and yet she was the one he found himself sharing his struggle with. When surprisingly they both bond over the frustrations they feel in connection to their fathers, that relationship only grows stronger. But because Eric has yet to let go and face his grief, there was always going to be something standing in the way of his happiness. What Eric had to realize is that what was standing in that barrier was himself.

Anne Herrick writes a captivating tale about a boy who loves to play football. All of the elements of the sport are infused in every page of this book, taking you back to the time when you were in high school and the main event of the week was the Friday night football game. You can almost feel yourself back there, wrapped in nostalgia while still holding focus to the originality of the story she has written before you. It is a beautiful thing to be able to recall you past and still absorb a new story being told to you as a way of identifying with the world the author has created. Herrick does this beautifully, but this is not all that she accomplishes in her writing.

Herrick breeches a topic that for most  is very difficult to broach, much less express in a way that doesn’t sound preachy but instead speaks right to where we all have at one time or another found ourselves. This is a story about how you cannot outrun your broken heart. You cannot quit your so called failures. You cannot burry your heartache. You cannot bring back your past. The more you feel you are running from your feeling and the event that spurred them, the faster in fact you are running right back into them to simply live it over and over and over until you break. Losing a loved one is simply unbearable alone. To lose someone whose placeholder in your life is irreplaceable and then to act as if you are untouched by that lose is simply impossible, but it is a feat that all too many of us think that we can take on. But through her character Eric, a good, kind, boy next door kind of guy, Herrick shows us what can happen when the impossible burden brings us to breaking. She executes these avenues of heartbreak and healing with such agility and care, that there is no way that these messages could be missed.  To those of us who have experienced this type of emotional turmoil, it is a reminder that we must continue to carry on and actually allow ourselves to feel our feelings. To those who have not yet encountered this inevitability of life, it is a depiction of how life can hit you in the last place you ever expect it to. Eric was all too used to taking hits on the football field and walking away from them unscathed, but when he had to take such a massive blow to his heart, the same actions he took with football were no longer valid. It’s in the learning of this that he would find healing, and by connection, so can we.

I give this book 5 out of 5 morals. Barring a few small editing typos that I found (which may have been an error in my download in the book) everything about this book was seamless. I could not put it down. In fact I read it in one day I was so pulled in by the story and the emotions it brought with it. I was reminded of some of my own feelings that have been pushed down, and now feel inspired to reexamine those situations to ensure that I am making the most out of my life and not letting my emotions make me. I wish much success for this book and would be hard pressed to find anyone who would not want to experience its impact. 

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