Reviewer Matthew Jenks: Matthew is a lifelong reader who grew up in Indiana but now currently lives in North Carolina where he enjoys the tempestuous moods of the weather whenever he can. He is an avid reader of multiple genres of fiction as well as scientific, historical and travel writing non-fiction books.
Author: Linda Lange
Author: Linda Lange
Incomplete Passes by Linda Lange is an account of a young woman and her three closest friends growing up during the fifties and sixties in Green Bay, Wisconsin, a town famous for cheese, frigid winters and the city's resident professional football team, the Green Bay Packers. Brought together by their love of the hometown heroes, it becomes obvious that the four friends are as inseparable from each other as football is from Green Bay.
Lange narrates her memoir with a conversational tone that makes the book easily-accessible and also helps to provide a believable candor about her friends, family and the interactions with the players from the team. Through the openness of Lange's writing, she is constantly sure to protect the anonymity of her friends and several of the Packers players-sometimes pointedly. While this makes for safe storytelling, it sometimes interrupts the flow of the book.
The four friends on whom the book centers consist of a broad spectrum of individuals who are easily discernible as individuals; once Lange has introduced her three friends, it was not a problem trying to tease apart which character was in the story. It is obvious that there is a great fondness and rich friendship between the four women and this sense of camaraderie is sustained throughout the book. Never, despite the candor, does Lange shine a negative light on any of the women nor on her family. Though Lange touches on adult themes, there is nothing salacious or even libelous about any of her interactions with Packers players--even notorious playboy Paul Hornung shines like a golden boy. The stories that the author relates are fun, funny and endearing. Anyone looking for cheap thrills and dirt-slinging about Packers of years past will have to search elsewhere.
While the stories are enjoyable, they are told in anecdotal form. If there is a major complaint about the book, it is this. The stories are great. They are fun. However, they are short and often to the point. The stories are complete, however they tend to be brief. While it is understandable that the author was not focusing on a tell-all type memoir, the reader is sometimes left wanting more substance to the tales presented within the book. The interactions with "Mr. A" were intriguing. As he kept popping up almost as a recurring character, to have a more developed story describing the interaction between the player and the author would have strengthened the overall theme of the book--especially the punning of the title Incomplete Passes.
Lange nicely bookends her memoir with the ladies' annual trip to Green Bay to watch a game in person. While it was nice to learn about the women in the opening of the book, the final chapter in which the author seeks the "perfect ending" is where the warmth of the friendships truly shines. At this point, the story is less about the interactions with the famous athletes of days gone by and is more about the women who have been closest to the author growing up and growing older. Though the interactions between the women still suffered from brevity, the stories of the four friends united by their love of football, each other and the Packers was a fitting end to the book.
In all, this is a nice addition to Packer lore. There is nothing new or groundbreaking in here, but the memoir is fun and warm and is a quick read for anyone who is interested in the history of Green Bay and the Packers in their heyday. A very solid effort and a nicely-written debut book.
Follow Here To Purchase Incomplete Passes: Reflections On Life, Love, And Football