TOUCHBACK by Don Handfield


A love story about farming, football and a time-traveling pickup truck
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A new and welcome page in the redemption-through-football playbook.

Regrets. Like opinions, everybody’s got at least a few. But what if you could go back, start anew? Chances are some of those regrets made you who you are today—for better or for worse. Enter football star–cum–failing farmer, Scott Murphy. Once the pride of the proudly blue-collar Coldwater Cavaliers (four district titles, four regional crowns, a state record of 48 consecutive wins, unanimous Mr. Football 1991), a blow to the knee on the last play of the state championship ruined everything. Flash forward 20 years: Old #13 is now eking out a life for his wife, two daughters and a mutt on a soybean farm. The bank is mere days away from foreclosing. The D-line of life ready to sack him for good, Murphy decides the only way to save his family is to kill himself. Luckily, his beat up Chevy pickup proves a better time machine than death trap; once the carbon monoxide clears, Scott Murphy sees he’s back at Coldwater High. First-time author Handfield handles the switch with aplomb. Ultimately, it’s this time-traveling plot point that separates his football novel (now a major motion picture) from all the other nonfantasy ones out there. Yet North Dallas Forty this one’s certainly not, especially where the prose turns a bit too maudlin. Both Murphy and the reader know how the story has to end, however, so it’s a testament to Handfield’s character development and overall narrative conditioning that he keeps each player in the game until that final, fateful down.

Friday Night Lights hands it off to H.G. Wells in this winningly unique tale.

Pub Date: April 13th, 2012
Page count: 434pp
Publisher: Sky Village Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2012


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