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Publisher's Summary

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 entire town has gathered in the stands, cheering on their boys. 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, 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.

©2018 Marjorie Herrera Lewis (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"A wonderfully touching and beautiful story.... Tylene makes me laugh, cry, and cheer for her in ways I have not done in a long time.” (Diane Les Bocquets, best-selling author of Breaking Wild)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible story and reader!

This story embodies the spirit of humanity in the face of adversity. Tylene Wilson was a trailblazer and warrior of the same ilk as Pat Summitt, and another Central Texas sports icon, Jody Conradt. Even if you don’t love “sportball” you will root for the Brownwood Lions when you read this story. Congratulations to Ms. Lewis on a fantastic debut novel!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great story!

Loved it! This was well written and I really enjoyed the entire book! I hope to see more from the author!

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  • Tammy Bogard
  • Dallas, TX, US
  • 12-02-18

Incredible story and reader!

This story embodies the spirit of humanity in the face of adversity. Tylene Wilson was a trailblazer and warrior of the same ilk as Pat Summitt, and another Central Texas sports icon, Jody Conradt. Even if you don’t love “sportball” you will root for the Brownwood Lions when you read this story. Congratulations to Ms. Lewis on a fantastic debut novel!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Darrell sanchez
  • 10-23-18

Great story!

Loved it! This was well written and I really enjoyed the entire book! I hope to see more from the author!

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tammy Bogard
  • Dallas, TX, US
  • 12-02-18

Incredible story and reader!

This story embodies the spirit of humanity in the face of adversity. Tylene Wilson was a trailblazer and warrior of the same ilk as Pat Summitt, and another Central Texas sports icon, Jody Conradt. Even if you don’t love “sportball” you will root for the Brownwood Lions when you read this story. Congratulations to Ms. Lewis on a fantastic debut novel!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Darrell sanchez
  • 10-23-18

Great story!

Loved it! This was well written and I really enjoyed the entire book! I hope to see more from the author!