When the Men Were Gone: A Novel

When the Men Were Gone: A Novel

In Marjorie Herrera Lewis’s debut historical novel the inspiring true story of high school teacher Tylene Wilson—a woman who surprises everyone as she breaks with tradition to become the first high school football coach in Texas—comes to life.Football is the heartbeat of Brownwood, Texas. Every Friday night for as long as assistant principal Tylene Wilson can remember, the...

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Title:When the Men Were Gone: A Novel
Author:Marjorie Herrera Lewis
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When the Men Were Gone: A Novel Reviews

  • michele

    I got this book as an uncorrected proof at a Book Expo.

    What an uplifting, powerful, and moving book that touched on the subjects of war, loss, and hope. But what I loved most about this book was it's reminder of what life was like for women back in the '40s and the social constraints they endured because they weren't seen as equal to men.

    I would recommend this book be added to a school's summer reading list as it is both entertaining and educational. And I wouldn't be surprised if it was made in

    I got this book as an uncorrected proof at a Book Expo.

    What an uplifting, powerful, and moving book that touched on the subjects of war, loss, and hope. But what I loved most about this book was it's reminder of what life was like for women back in the '40s and the social constraints they endured because they weren't seen as equal to men.

    I would recommend this book be added to a school's summer reading list as it is both entertaining and educational. And I wouldn't be surprised if it was made into a movie. I was astounded when I learned that it was based off of a real individual and I feel like this is a story, and lesson, that needs to be heard on a large scale.

  • Melissa Isaacson

    Wonderful read with compelling characters that draw you in instantly and capture your heart. This is an amazing debut novel by Marjorie Herrera Lewis.

  • Daniel Ross

    When I first saw the cover of this novel, I immediately remembered one of my favorite movies, "Summer of '42." The movie brilliantly details the adolescent lives and times of two boys too young to go off to WW II, the heartbreak of a young war widow, and how those life streams connect.

    The brilliance of Marjorie's based-on-a-true-story novel is that, like the movie did, it distills the life and times of people facing far-off WW II into a local conflict that they must battle hand to hand. The prim

    When I first saw the cover of this novel, I immediately remembered one of my favorite movies, "Summer of '42." The movie brilliantly details the adolescent lives and times of two boys too young to go off to WW II, the heartbreak of a young war widow, and how those life streams connect.

    The brilliance of Marjorie's based-on-a-true-story novel is that, like the movie did, it distills the life and times of people facing far-off WW II into a local conflict that they must battle hand to hand. The primary battle is sexism: protagonist Tylene (a real person) is the best choice to be the school's football coach, but the men in the decision chain are skeptical—and her opposing coaches are rudely dismissive.

    We look back through our long lenses to those days and just shake our heads today. But this was another time and place that Majorie has reborn and given life.

    Tylene was a real person in the Texas school football continuum, and her "factional" depiction is fully realized as a caring, football-loving teacher and school supporter who just wants to do the best thing for everyone. She infuses even her skeptical football team with energy and directs them with skill, finally overcoming the last barrier when a teammate's brother, a former school football stand-out now injured, gives his support.

    In the end, they lose the Big Game, but they are victorious in pride and self-worth.

    This is "Friday Night Lights" crossed with DNA from "Summer of '42." It has a little Sisyphean top-spin, with tasks that are both laborious and futile. The coaching trials compete with Tylene's effort to rescue a former student and football star from the life-eroding effects of his war wounds; with keeping her marriage happy and functioning; and occasionally, with her own self-doubt.

    This is a finely tuned, lyrical story that evokes a time long past but mostly fondly remembered, the war years when Americans all pulled together to fight the Hun while mostly ignoring the social battles on the home front because that's what they always did then. The Greatest Generation at war sometimes wasn't so great back home.

    Marjorie's seminal work will one day be taught in high school English Lit classes. Full disclosure: I'm proud to say I shared an MFA program with her for a time, but it's clear she paid closer attention than I did. I'm told this story has been optioned for a movie, and that's great news.

    But like one often says, the book is better.

    Five Stars: One for any writer facing the anxiety of a blank page; one for an ignored story uncovered and illuminated well; one for finely drawn characters who come to life on the page and in the reader’s mind; one for a terrific cover; and one because I'm happy to think this is just the start of a wonderful career full of great reading for us all.

    Strongly, unequivocally recommended.

  • Quirkyreader

    First off I received this book as a giveaway from William Morrow. And for that I say thank you.

    I am not a big fan of American Football, but I still enjoyed this story that was based on a real person. And this story was very faith based, so it crosses genres over into Christian Fiction.

    The main character of this story had many obstacles to overcome and she did it with her best face forward.

    This story also makes for a good North American fall read. Especially since it is set during High School fo

    First off I received this book as a giveaway from William Morrow. And for that I say thank you.

    I am not a big fan of American Football, but I still enjoyed this story that was based on a real person. And this story was very faith based, so it crosses genres over into Christian Fiction.

    The main character of this story had many obstacles to overcome and she did it with her best face forward.

    This story also makes for a good North American fall read. Especially since it is set during High School football season.

  • Courtney Judy

    Another "based on a true story" that I completely missed it was true! A very fast and easy read that at times had me saying "are you serious??" while reading. Reminding me a little bit of "Wildcats" with Goldie Hawn, 'When the Men Were Gone' was a great story about a town in Texas whose high school football season was severely affected by the war and the strong woman that stepped up and became the football coach despite the verbal and mental abuse that she was subjected to by some of the players

    Another "based on a true story" that I completely missed it was true! A very fast and easy read that at times had me saying "are you serious??" while reading. Reminding me a little bit of "Wildcats" with Goldie Hawn, 'When the Men Were Gone' was a great story about a town in Texas whose high school football season was severely affected by the war and the strong woman that stepped up and became the football coach despite the verbal and mental abuse that she was subjected to by some of the players, the parents, the townsfolk and even her close friends. While the story portrays only one game, of what I presume was a full season, that first game was intense. The amount of ridicule and mockery that Tylene Wilson (a real person!) had to endure just to provide the high school seniors one more year of 'normal' before having to be shipped off to war was inspiring and motivating that sometimes you only get one chance to do what you love, and you shouldn't let that opportunity pass you by.

  • CLM

    It's Autumn 1944, and with all the young men heading off to WWII there is no one left to coach the high school football team except Assistant Principal Tylene Wilson. But not everyone is in favor of a woman taking on a man's job . . .

    My review:

  • Donna

    This is a debut Historical Fiction novel based on a true story set during WWII in the heart of Texas. This was a quick, light and fun read. It was character driven. The characters were very detailed. They were likable and they all had purpose with their own story to tell. There wasn't much world building other than what came through from all of the characters....their thoughts, actions, emotion, etc. But that was okay...not a deal breaker.

    A vice principal steps up to coach the high school footb

    This is a debut Historical Fiction novel based on a true story set during WWII in the heart of Texas. This was a quick, light and fun read. It was character driven. The characters were very detailed. They were likable and they all had purpose with their own story to tell. There wasn't much world building other than what came through from all of the characters....their thoughts, actions, emotion, etc. But that was okay...not a deal breaker.

    A vice principal steps up to coach the high school football team because there is no one else who can or will do it....but it turns out that the vice principal is a woman. The community is in a bit of a snit that a woman is stepping out of 'her place'. If she didn't step forward, the football program would have been cancelled and these boys might be off to war sooner than later. Overall, this was a little predictable, but there was enough drama that moved at a nice pace that kept me hooked....so 4 stars.

  • Mayda

    Football was part of everyone’s life in Brownwood, Texas. The men taught their sons, the coaches led their teams, the girls cheered them on, and everyone came to the games every Friday night during football season. High school football meant everything to this town, and everyone knew their place. At least that’s the way it was until the war took the men. Now, most of the men eligle to coach the high school team were either serving overseas or had paid the ultimate price of freedom with their liv

    Football was part of everyone’s life in Brownwood, Texas. The men taught their sons, the coaches led their teams, the girls cheered them on, and everyone came to the games every Friday night during football season. High school football meant everything to this town, and everyone knew their place. At least that’s the way it was until the war took the men. Now, most of the men eligle to coach the high school team were either serving overseas or had paid the ultimate price of freedom with their lives. Without a coach, the school board would have to cancel the season. Tylene Wilson, school administrator, had grown up learning about football from her dad, and knew the boys, especially the seniors, needed football as much as the town did. But when her efforts to find a male coach fell through, she decided to step up to the plate. She knew she could coach, if she were allowed to coach. But being accepted as a coach was another thing entirely. Though met with resistance from nearly every corner and everyone, she persevered. Base on a true story, this novel is a tale of one woman’s stubborn desire to do what was needed and what was right, to show “her boys” - the team - the true meaning of sportsmanship and what playing football really meant. Well written with strong characters, especially with a strong female character, author Marjorie Herrera Lewis has penned an inspirational story that has lessons for us all in its pages.

  • Dayle (the literary llama)

    A quick read with some shining moments and spotlight on another role that women fought to fill during WWII. The coaching chapters were by far the best and incredibly interesting and easy to get caught up in.

    But it also lacked plot focus in areas, with a lot of detailed filler that eventually felt unnecessary to the overall story arc (even though they were probably the factual parts of the history that the author wanted to convey). It was mostly the quick backstories on every minor character tha

    A quick read with some shining moments and spotlight on another role that women fought to fill during WWII. The coaching chapters were by far the best and incredibly interesting and easy to get caught up in.

    But it also lacked plot focus in areas, with a lot of detailed filler that eventually felt unnecessary to the overall story arc (even though they were probably the factual parts of the history that the author wanted to convey). It was mostly the quick backstories on every minor character that started to stall the flow. When the author focused on Tylene’s history with her husband and parents, it felt more in tune and focused, as well as a more natural part of this story.

    The dialogue was a little “made-for-tv-movie”, sort of stilted and overly optimistic and sweet. Not entirely my cup of tea, but it also didn’t completely overshadow the story the author was trying to tell. The book does have a lot of heart as well as courage in the face of adversity. It was definitely a story worth telling.

    The ending wasn’t great, mainly because it seemed to cut off so abruptly. That’s where the author chose to end it, and I respect that, it was a sweet little moment that connected Tylene with her husband and reiterated why she has the passion she does for the boys she coached and not just a love of football. But it still left me wanting. I at least expected a few quick sentences for key people as an epilogue. You know, how they generally do at the end of movies that are based on true stories.

    Overall, I was glad to have a little insight into this area of history, even through a fictionalization.

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