Book Review

Book Review: When the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical Fiction
Length: 240 pages
Author: Marjorie Herrera Lewis
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


It’s a man’s game, until now…
Football is the heartbeat of Brownwood, Texas. Every Friday night for as long as assistant principal Tylene Wilson can remember, the entire town has gathered in the stands, cheering their boys on. Each September brings with it the hope of a good season and a sense of unity and optimism.

Now, the war has changed everything.  Most of the Brownwood men over 18 and under 45 are off fighting, and in a small town the possibilities are limited. Could this mean a season without football? But no one counted on Tylene, who learned the game at her daddy’s knee. She knows more about it than most men, so she does the unthinkable, convincing the school to let her take on the job of coach.

Faced with extreme opposition—by the press, the community, rival coaches, and referees and even the players themselves—Tylene remains resolute. And when her boys rally around her, she leads the team—and the town—to a Friday night and a subsequent season they will never forget.           

Based on a true story, When the Men Were Gone is a powerful and vibrant novel of perseverance and personal courage.


I feel like this got an extra star purely for the fact that I love football. And I loved that there was a female coach who refused to let her team down when everyone else in town wanted nothing to do with her.

It’s a very quick read. Which was a pro and a con. I was hoping for a bit more depth in characters and general story. What I did get was fine, but rushed. There were thrown in tidbits of Tylene’s past and why she’s fighting so hard to have her football season. It did help me grasp the fierce nature of wanting these boys to not have to go to war just yet. Letting them be young just a little longer. Those sentiments really hit home in the midst of World War 2.

I wish there was more back story at the end. I wanted to know how the rest of the season went as this book only covers the 2 weeks leading up to their first game of Tylene’s season. Tylene was a strong woman who clearly understood the game. I love how she made jaws drop and men shut their mouths as she proved over and over that she would be the best person for this job.

If you’re a football fan + historical fiction lover, I would try this one out! It was a good combination. And I really felt the rush and remembrance of the fall football atmosphere.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: bullying, misogyny, mentions of losing men in WW2, loss of a baby, PTSD (a side character)

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