A cute YA romance in a book that was a little heavier than expected
This was my second read by Adler, and I’m happy to say that I liked it much more than her other, Cool for the Summer. While I enjoyed the feel of Adler’s previous writing, I just didn’t enjoy many of her story choices and I ran into some personal pet peeves. Luckily, this book didn’t have any of those issues so it was a much better match for me. It was a tad heavier, maybe sadder, at times than I expected but the cute romance, good main characters, and an enjoyable ending pushed the book into 4 stars territory for me.
While this is technically a “sports” romance it’s the high school cheerleaders and football feel. There are only a few football scenes and all of them are either exciting or add something important to the story. You don’t have to have any football knowledge to enjoy this one and you won’t get lost because Adler crafts very clear word pictures to follow along with.
I used words like heavier than expected and sad to describe this book. While it might not have one or two huge triggers, it has a whole bunch of little ones in the way of being homophobic and extremely misogynistic. It is almost like death by a thousand paper cuts and I was surprised how much it started to wear me down. You have two main characters, two or three secondary teenage characters, and a cool mom (with some rare bisexual mom rep), and this was about it for nice characters. Everyone else was pretty horrible and it was hard watching the main characters totally alone at times. I think it ended up being a little too much and the book has this downer feeling that stopped me from liking it enough to call it a 5 star read. I think you can make your points about misogyny and homophobia without making every character an asshole.
Adler did a really nice job on the two main characters and a main secondary character. Sometimes when you read YA, you know it was written by an adult trying to imitate a teenager’s voice. With Adler it doesn’t feel like that. It feels like you are put into the mind of these young adults, dealing with these issues and just trying to make it through high school. The main characters were relatable and while flawed, they still showed growth and you could not help but totally ship them as an adorable couple. Parts of this book were clearly a downer, but the romance was sweet and just what you hope for in a good YA book. And while I will not give anything away, I enjoyed the whole last quarter of the book. It made me feel like I was watching the ending of a teenage rom-com and it put a smile on my face.
TLDR: This was a well-done YA romance with a sports twist. If you like the whole setting of high school football and cheerleaders, and like the idea of a young queer woman breaking boundaries, I would recommend this book. It does have homophobia and a lot of misogyny, so it may be triggering to some. I think the book was a little heavier than I expected, but the romance between likeable characters helped to balance some of those parts out and I did end the book with a smile on my face. I look forward to reading Adler again.
An ARC was given to me for a review.