Publisher: Moonstruck Media (2012)
In the second edition of my Olympics-inspired sport reviews I’ve chosen a book that ended up completely shocking me. There are so many football books that I’m going to try to spread them out, this is just the first new one I stumbled upon.
Plot: About 6 months before the start of the book Chase Walden’s dad died in a plane crash. Unable to afford their current lifestyle, Chase and his mom move to a new community where Chase falls in with a rather “fast” crowd and spends all his time drinking and doing drugs in order to try to forget how much he misses his dad. After one too many bad choices Chase’s mom decides that the two of them will move in with her parents who run a ranch on the outskirts of a small Arizona town. Chase is instantly intrigued with good girl Nikki – despite the fact that she thinks Chase is a total punk and wants nothing to do with him. Gradually Chase wears Nikki down, they start to date, he stops drinking and smoking pot, joins the football team, and becomes an all-around awesome guy. But then tragedy strikes and Chase has to figure out how to remain the person he’s become, rather than sliding back into his bad-boy ways.
Sport: This one actually had me worried because while there was tons of talk about Chase’s football career before his father’s death, it wasn’t until about 70% of the book had passed that the first action scene occurred. But there are a few practices and one game which are written about in some detail. Yay!
Review: I’m not going to lie, I thought this was going to be your normal “guy with issues meets the perfect girl who makes him turn his life around and they live happily ever after (until they go to college, at least)” story but it was so much more than that. First off I liked that we got enough glimpses of the kind of guy Chase had been before his dad passed away to understand his fairly sudden transformation. He was a great guy who experienced something awful, met a girl who also lost a parent and understood what he was feeling, and decided to be the type of guy she would fall for. Hell, I fell for him and he’s a fictional character way younger than I am.
What I did not expect at all was the end of the book. Holy crap. I’m not going to spoil anything and tell you what happens but I was literally bawling my eyes out for the last 15% of my book (no clue what that is in actual pages). I mean, this is a football story! There’s no crying in football! (Except, as Judith pointed out, we do love our FNL and obviously the town of Dillon, TX gets my tear ducts working overtime.) I kept hoping I’d turn the page and it would all have been some awful dream sequence but it wasn’t! While part of me wants a sequel so I can see what will happen with these characters, another part of me can’t stand the idea of reading about that same future.
Oh and please don’t judge the book based on this cover. I almost said “hell no” when I saw the cover but went for it anyway. So glad I did!
In the end I’m going to give this one a 10 out of 10.
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the hero: 10. Since the story is told from Chase’s POV I’m putting him here. Chase is a really great guy who experienced one of the worst things anyone can experience. Yes he makes some really REALLY bad decisions but I think we can all understand where he’s coming from. When he meets and is immediately drawn to Nikki he doesn’t mock her for her fairly straight-laced ways but understands that if he wants this girl – and everyone else – to judge him for who he really is then he needs to stop acting out. I loved the little scenes with the two of them and reading about the growth of their relationship. He even carries her books!! SQUEE! (My heart literally grows three sizes every time a guy carries a girl’s books. I think the character could then skin bunnies and I’d still say he’s an awesome character because of the book carrying. [Note: There were NO skinned bunnies in this book!]) While it did all happen pretty sudden none of it seemed rushed our out-of-place, just perfect.
How much did I like the love interest: 10. This girl is definitely too good to be true. She’s smart, a cheerleader, volunteers with an addiction counselor, a wonderful daughter and older sister, and has an amazing sense of who she is and what she wants to do with her life. When she finally agrees to go out with Chase she doesn’t expect him to be some bad boy but makes him realize that he needs to change his behavior for his own good, not just in order to be with her. I loved that she had experience with grief and could empathize and help Chase handle everything he was feeling. The faith she has in Chase and belief that he really is an amazing person were so touching to read about. I’m getting choked up here!
How believable is the plot: 10. As upsetting as some of this stuff was it’s not hard to imagine any of it happening. When it was good it was amazing and when it was sad it was SO sad.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 9. The book could have used some more editing. There was a major over-usage of commas and some incorrect words.
How much did I want to keep reading: 10. Literally couldn’t put it down.
Glasses of wine I drank while reading: 2. Mostly to get me through my tears and over the shock of the last bit of the book.
Final Score: 10/10. Take my advice and read this book – but make sure you have a tissue close by.