In 2008, a tornado rips apart the town of Parkersburg, Iowa. A beloved, award-winning, high school football coach of over 30 years helps rally the people in rebuilding their small town. Less than 2 years later he is gunned down in front of students by a former player.
Coach Ed Thomas is the kind of man every parent wishes their child had as a teacher and coach. He was a man who practiced what he preached. He was invested in his students and players. It didn’t matter if you were the best player on the team or a bench warmer, he made everybody feel important. This man even coached four players from that small town to the NFL!
When an EF5 tornado blows through the Parkersburg, destroying most of it (including the high school, the field, and Ed’s home), Ed Thomas gets together with other school officials and makes the statement that the football team will play their first home game on that field, dubbed “The Sacred Acre”, barely over three months away… and they do it.
After much of the hard work of rebuilding is finally over and life is returning to normal for the town, tragedy strikes. A former student and player suffering from a mental illness seeks out Coach Thomas in the weight room and shoots him. Readers know the outcome, but to read it from the perspective of Ed’s wife and sons is heart wrenching. I cannot imagine the strength they had to endure the shocking death of somebody so endeared.
“The Sacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story” was written by Mark Tabb with the family of Ed Thomas. There was a definite sense that this book was written from interviews of people who knew Ed, some documents, and media releases but it did not hinder the story. Also included were links to YouTube videos that added to the reading experience by seeing the locations, devastations, and people with the readers’ own eyes. There was a bit of jumping back and forth from Ed’s past to the current timeline, but the author had breaks and marks that made it easy to know when it happened.
Overall I did enjoy this book. I wanted to cheer when victories occurred and at other times shed tears to learn of events that happened, even though I knew they were coming. I loved the expression of love and forgiveness the Ed Thomas Family expressed to the family of Ed’s murderer, despite their own anguish and anger. Their acceptance of that family allowed for the rest of the small town to keep from ostracizing them. It also opened the doors for everyone to heal.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255