With the leaves changing and October crispness filling the air, a football story felt like the perfect book. After reading Simone Elkeles Perfect Chemistry series this Spring (which I was totally head over heels for) I found out she had this hot, new football story coming out this October and I couldn't wait to snag it up. It's told from the duel POV's of Ashtyn, a the kicker for the football team, and Derek, the new guy in town who's not only going to invade her school that fall, but also her house (he's her big sister's step-son).
From Goodreads:After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.
Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain--people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?
Simone went to the high school where this book takes place and based her characters on the real team. She even has a tv show she's working on based on these players (link here). I liked that she got to know them and their coach and was able to understand and really FEEL what having a girl on the team can do to them. Of course she isn't telling their stories, but basing WILD CARDS off them more in a general sense.
I was expecting it to be a bit more like Catching Jordan with lots of playing time and seeing Ashtyn perform under pressure, but it was more of a love story. Only one game happens, and some practices, but much of the book is off the field. The sexual tension runs high from the moment the two meet. The duel POV is super fun. I liked experiencing both sides of the story. Derek has a difficult past, he's a decent guy who hasn't picked up a football since his mom died. Ashtyn is a girl (also without a mom) trying to gain her father's attention by playing football, a sport he loves. How the two meet is super fun...it reminds me a bit of the movie Far and Away (with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman).
My main holdup: I struggled to believe the team would vote a kicker captain, especially since she didn't seem all that confident about that role. Her being voted in is the catalyst to the story, so I needed to believe it.
With all the sex and cruel language/discussions it felt more adult (or NA) than YA to me. When I read a YA I think about my 15 and 17 year old nieces and whether I could hand them the book. This time around I'd have to so no. But if you're a mature reader, go for it! It'll be a fun read of emotions, sexual tension, and football.
Have you read WILD CARDS? Would you play HS football? Are you loving fall?