I like it when people surprise me.
When I chose a book by ESPN’s Mike Greenberg to review for the Associated Press, I figured it would be about his life as a sports journalist and family man. But that was his best-selling first book: “Why My Wife Thinks I’m an Idiot: the Life and Times of a Sportscaster Dad.”
Greenberg’s latest effort is a novel. Interesting, I thought. A guy who spends all day on a microphone at ESPN radio talking about guy stuff is trying his hand at fiction. I was intrigued, but maintained low expectations.
But Greenberg delivers.
His first novel is told in the first-person voices of three women– between 28 and 40-ish– and he absolutely nails a feminine sensibility. His characters are relatable and his writing style is intimate, engaging, and often funny.
Unlike his co-anchor, Mike Golic, of their radio show”Mike and Mike,” Greenberg is not a former athlete-turned commentator. The author has a masters degree from the prestigous Medill Journalism school at Northwestern University and has covered sports for ESPN for more than 16 years.
So he has the potential for writing chops, but pulling off a story about three smart, strong-willed women facing huge life challenges is no easy feat. The first half of the book focuses on where the women (who don’t know each other) are in their lives and in the second half, they are all diagnosed with breast cancer. They meet on an online cancer support group and help each other cope with the realities of illness and facing mortality.
The book is well-written and celebrates women, respecting all their complexities. It’s about friendship and finding meaning in your life right now.
Greenberg is married with two kids, and has a personal connection to the breast cancer storyline. He was moved when his wife, Stacy, and other friends rallied around their friend, Heidi Armitage, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago. After Heidi died at 43, Greenberg and his wife started a foundation called “Heidi’s Angels” to support breast cancer patients.
Greenberg is also donating all the author proceeds of the book to the V Foundation for Cancer Research. So he’s a guy’s guy, a girl’s guy, and a nice guy.
What a pleasant surprise.
Read my review here and let me know if you would read the book. It’s a natural book club choice.