At some point in life, most people find themselves thinking or saying, “Nothing good ever happens to me.” For 12-year old Charlie Trotter, that was the case after learning his parents were getting divorced. Between trouble at home and issues with friends, bullies and middle-school romances, Charlie struggled to maintain any sense of optimism.
This is the storyline for Rebuilding Year: A Boy, His Father, and the 1998 Tennessee Volunteers, a new book by author John Norwood of Greenville, SC. In his book, Norwood shows how good things can happen in spite of bad circumstances. The book, like the popular Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Twilight series, targets younger readers without losing its appeal for adults.
As Charlie struggles with everything going on around him, his father buys season tickets to the University of Tennessee football team’s 1998 season as a way to spend time with his son on weekends. Renowned quarterback Peyton Manning has graduated and expectations for the team are low. Charlie believes going to the games is a waste of time. Throughout the season, the father and son discover that — against all odds — something special is taking place before their eyes at Neyland Stadium .
Readers discover in Rebuilding Year: A Boy, His Father, and the 1998 Tennessee Volunteers that hope can be found wherever you are. With the UT football team’s 1998 season as a background, Charlie and his father learn valuable life-lessons that apply equally to middle school boys, dads, families and championship football teams.
Author John Norwood grew up following SEC football in South Carolina (both his mother and father are graduates of the Univ. of Georgia). A self-described “jock who wasn’t very good at sports,” Norwood transferred to the University of Tennessee in August of 1998 and graduated in 2000. He went on to earn a master’s degree in screenwriting from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
For the next few years, Norwood worked in Los Angeles as a songwriter and as a screenwriter for television. It was the first time in his life when he was surrounded by people who followed professional sports more passionately than they followed college athletics. “I went to the University of Tennessee at possibly the best time in history for a college football fan,” Norwood said. Just five years later, he was in L.A. surrounded by NFL fans, NHL fans, NBA fans and MLB fans who didn’t understand his passion for college athletics.
“When I wrote this book, I was going through a rebuilding year myself. I graduated from grad school just as the economy took a nosedive. It was tough. The economy tanked and the job market was so bad in Los Angeles that I had to move home to South Carolina. There isn’t much work for screenwriters in South Carolina, so I turned my attention to fiction — and fiction gave me the opportunity to come back to my passion.”
Norwood’s homecoming found him back in his home state, closer to his family, and surrounded by things familiar to him, including college sports fanatics. His fiction writing, which was also a kind of homecoming for Norwood, brought him back to his passion.
Norwood said, “There’s a line in the book that says, ‘It’s good to be happy, when it doesn’t make much sense to be.’ For me, that was the most important line of the book. That’s what rebuilding years are all about.”
Norwood’s book went on sale nationwide this month. For more information about Rebuilding Year: A Boy, His Father, and the 1998 Tennessee Volunteers visit or www.RebuildingYear.com or www.amazon.com.