Paradise Found: A High School Football Team’s Rise from the Ashes

Morrow. Nov. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9780063014510. $28.99. SPORTS
Tucked into the northern California foothills, the small town of Paradise made international headlines in 2018 when it was essentially destroyed by wildfire. In the wake of the heartbreaking devastation, Paradise’s high school football team and coach became the town’s unexpected source of hope. Sports journalist Plaschke, a longtime columnist for the Los Angeles Times, went to Paradise for the 2019 football season and watched as the young players, many experiencing homelessness and separation from their families, turned an unprecedented challenge into a reflection of Paradise’s indomitable spirit. Plaschke’s familiar, conversational writing style accommodates both tragedy and renewal, strongly conveying the gritty determination of the so-called “hillbilly” little town that lost nearly everything. For its coverage of the unexpected horror of a natural disaster that took almost 100 lives, and of a season that helped to redefine Paradise, Plaschke’s account will stand as the foremost record of a team’s and a town’s unvanquished spirit.
VERDICT Told with clear-eyed honesty, this story of unfaltering purpose will resonate beyond a sports-loving readership. Already optioned for a film treatment, Plaschke’s intense and inspiring account of a town’s loss and will to recover is recommended for all public library collections.
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