When the Men Were Gone: A Novel (Paperback)

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“…Sublimely ties together the drama of high school football, gender politics, and the impact of war on a small town in Texas.” – Sports Illustrated

A 2019 One of the Best Books So Far--Newsweek.com

A cross between Friday Night Lights and The Atomic City Girls, When The Men Were Gone is a debut historical novel based on the true story of Tylene Wilson, a woman in 1940's Texas who, in spite of extreme opposition, became a female football coach in order to keep her students from heading off to war.

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.

About the Author


Marjorie Herrera Lewis knew early on she wanted a career related to sports. After several years at small newspapers, at age twenty-seven she began working at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Soon after, she was named a beat writer for the Dallas Cowboys and eventually joined the Dallas Morning News sportswriting staff. While writing When the Men Were Gone, she became inspired to try her hand at coaching football and was added to the Texas Wesleyan University football coaching staff. She presently teaches media ethics at the University of North Texas.

Praise For…


“A feel-good story about one woman’s persistence, strength, and love of the game.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“Tylene’s struggles, on and off the field, form the core of this satisfying historical novel based on a true story.”
— Booklist

“...WHEN THE MEN WERE GONE sublimely ties together the drama of high school football, gender politics and the impact of war on a small town in Texas.”
— Sports Illustrated

“A beautiful story that stays in your heart long after you finish reading When the Men Were Gone. A delightful true story, well written and touching.  Looking forward to reading many more books by Lewis.”
— Jodi Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Mornings on Main.


Product Details
ISBN: 9780062836052
ISBN-10: 0062836056
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2018
Pages: 240
Language: English