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The dynamics of marriage, friendship, and football + Melissa DeCarlo’s “The Art of Crash Landing”

A couple of Sundays ago my husband ran a decided to run a couple of errands after lunch. “Be home soon, ” I told him. “Football’s going to start.”

“I don’t know if I’m going to watch today. The Broncos played Thursday, and The Giants are on tomorrow night. Since we’re not doing a fantasy league, I don’t see the point,” he said. And he left, leaving me GOBSMACKED. (Sidenote, I grew up a Broncos’ fan, he grew up loving the Giants. We’ve made it work.)

A little Denver Bronco love in my office. Yes, I have a Broncos Luchador mask courtesy of my Brother-in-law, who Rocks it hardcore!!!

When he returned home, before he set out again, I had to have a talk with him. “Honey,” I said, “You cannot announce on SUNDAY that you don’t think you’re going to watch football. IT’S NOT OKAY. You cannot come in and announce something so foundational to our relationship just before its going to start.” I took a deep breath. “YOU ARE CHANGING THE WHOLE DYNAMIC OF OUR MARRIAGE when you decide you’re not watching Sunday football!”

He laughed, but I was dead serious. Eventually,  I think he came to understand my ire. I need football in the fall. I need it as much as I need to see the leaves change, as much as I need chili. As much as I need big sweatshirts and pumpkin spice lattes and comfy, cozy slippers. I need my Denver Broncos.

And it is an integral part of our relationship, our love and marriage. We were married in the fall. I’ve always believed that if we could merge our competing loves for the The Broncos and The Giants and form a cohesive relationship, we could, and can, overcome just about anything.

Who knows what would have happened if we were really challenged on that front? I mean, he could have been a Raiders fan or I could have been an Eagles fan. THAT would have really tested our love and commitment. But I think we could have overcome even that. ;-).

I find it strange that the media, including social media, makes it sound like most women do not like football. I have always loved football. Always. Beyond just me, though, most of my girl friends at least like football. And I have a football player’s sized handful of female friends that LOVE football as much as I do.

With these women I can discuss specifics. First downs and special teams, sacks and interceptions, quarterbacks and fullbacks and corners. They understand better than many of the men in their lives. Misconceptions about women and football abound.

For me, my love of football goes back to about junior high. That’s when I began to understand the game and its nuances. I understood why my dad — AND my mom — were screaming at the screen.

Through high school, and cheerleading, I understood why we were cheering “First and ten, do it again!!” And I wasn’t the only one. Most of my fellow cheer-mates (we were an all girls squad), understood the game. Most of the members on my swim team were the same way.

So I never really understood the stereotype about women and football. With my friends, it seems like those that don’t like football are outnumbered by those who do. And yes, when I’m watching football with a group, I can talk to my girlfriends AND watch football. Women multitask. Get over it.

So yes, I love football. It is necessary to my fall and to my life. For about half the year, the game is a major talking point in my friendships, my Sundays, and my marriage.

So don’t EVEN attempt to change those dynamics. I love football that much.

Now, onto Melissa DeCarlo’s The Art of Crash Landing.

“Queeg always said that normal people are just people you don’t know very well, and as far as I can tell, he was right on the money with that one.”

The Premise

Mattie Wallace is a mess. In her early 30’s, she’s just broken up with her latest loser of a boyfriend.  This time though, as drives away, she knows she pregnant.

After retreating to her stepdad Queeg’s house, she learns that the grandmother she never knew has died, leaving her the possibility of  inheritance. With nowhere to go, Mattie leaves the Florida panhandle for the small Oklahoma town of Gandy, Oklahoma —  the hometown of her mother and her grandmother and her family’s secrets.

Upon arrival in Gandy, Mattie finds out her grandmother’s lawyer is out of town, but his paralegal is kind enough to give her the keys to her grandmother’s house. The house comes with two French bulldogs and a surly next door neighbor. The paralegal, a wheelchair bound younger man, also gets Mattie a job at the library, much to her shock and dismay.

Living in the house and the small town where her mother grew up, Mattie starts to unravel the hidden history of her mother and the distant family she didn’t even know. The town of Gandy accepts her as its own just as easily as it hides its secrets.

But secrets have a way of coming to light. And Mattie, much to her surprise, may just find a safe, soft place to call home.

My Thoughts

 The Art of Crash Landing is a fun, incredibly compelling read. Immediately engrossing, it was hard to put down. A character driven story with a steering wheel called family history.

From the beginning, I was slightly uncomfortable with Mattie, DeCarlo’s incredibly flawed heroine. Mattie is, to put it indelicately, a trashy mess. By inference I came to understand that Mattie had been a big drinker and smoker and not adverse to drugs prior to her ill-timed pregnancy. She’s made some incredibly bad decisions and is one step away from living in her car.

Mattie’s relationship with her mother was tenuous, but Mattie seems to be repeating the mistakes she despised. The death of her mother hit her like a brick, and solidified her ability to avoid hard truths in life. Her relationship with her stepfather, Queeg, has always been her one saving grace, and he seems to see her incredible promise and intelligence.

Mattie’s improbable transformation throughout the book is extraordinary, teaching readers that understanding our pasts is one way to come to terms with our present. Mattie gets the additional gift of getting to understand her mother’s past, and thus understanding her mother a little better.

I also really appreciated the structure of DeCarlo’s story. Within the straightforward telling of Mattie and her discovery of her family’s history, she gives readers flashbacks of Mattie’s childhood and her interactions with her mother, giving readers a full understanding of what made Mattie (and her mother) tick.

The Art of Crash Landing reinforced two of my core beliefs: don’t judge someone until you know their whole story, and it’s never too late to make a change.

I give The Art of Crash Landing 4.5 stars. Emotional and engrossing and human. I can’t wait to read more from DeCarlo.



I love to read; writing is my outlet. My blog is my way to combine the two, with a some life stories thrown in for good measure.

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