Tyndale, Oct 2008, $12.99
Efficient Office Machines sales manager widower Roman Paulson is proud of his son Billy, a starting running back on the University of Nebraska football team; the kid is the big hope for the Big Red to win the national title. All is perfect in Lincoln until Billy stops coming home once a week for dinner; with the nudge of Offensive Team Coach Rollins he joined a church. Roman fears he is losing Billy to the coach and God especially when his son calling himself William now says his future is John Three-Sixteen.
However, tragedy strikes when Billy nearly drowned saving the life of a young boy. Roman is despondent as Billy is his life, but also holds Coach Rollins culpable for his good deeds shenanigans that led to his boy being in ICU clinging to life. Everyone but Roman prays. At a game a sad fan paying homage to his friend holds up William’s sign: John Three-Sixteen
This is a fascinating inspirational tale that focuses on how people turn to God for solace when an unexpected tragedy occurs. The strong ensemble cast (several other subplots than that described above) gets into trouble and out as they seek deliverance. The University of Nebraska football setting is never explored beyond a few platitudes and other background could have just as easily been used; however, the strong college community makes for a fine tale of redemption coming out of a terrible misfortune.