Fabulous YA romance
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: August 5, 2019
Pages: 280 pages
Publisher: Entangled: Crush
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Abandoned at age 13 by her professional baseball player father, whom she adored, Josie has spent the last five years avoiding anything in her life that smacks of emotional risk. She doesn’t have dreams, she has practical plans. Dreams are what her father had in his passionate pursuit of playing professional baseball at any cost. In their family, that cost has been the destruction of Josie’s and her mother’s lives. Her father taught Josie to love baseball, and then he proved that baseball meant more to him than anything else, including her.
From that point on, she wanted nothing to do with baseball. Until the day that her best friend Mai, a lovable geek with a big crush on a baseball player, drags Josie with her to watch their high school’s talented baseball team play. Two high school boys are announcing the game, and one of them is absolutely terrible at it. Listening to him repeatedly blow it becomes more than Josie can bear, and she stalks into the announcers’ booth to confront the awful announcer. His co-announcer, a boy named Garrett, admits the validity of her complaint and cheekily invites her to prove that she can do better. Unable to resist his challenge after the failed announcer storms out, Josie plops down, begins announcing and does a terrific job. She and Garrett have tremendous chemistry, and witty quips fly between them.
Garrett is a handsome, charming, fellow senior who used to be an extremely talented pitcher. He had the potential to ultimately go all the way to the major leagues until he was turfed out of his beloved game when he sustained a career destroying injury to his pitching arm a few months ago.. Though he is no longer able to play, he loves the game so much that he has taken up announcing his high school’s baseball games as a way to continue to be part of the sport he loves.
Since Garrett and Josie are so good together as an announcing team, he pleads with her to continue volunteering with him as a co-announcer. She strongly resists, out of her driving need to avoid anything to do with baseball, until he informs her he wants the two of them to jointly enter a contest which offers the 1st prize winners both a bundle of cash and guaranteed entry into the broadcasting degree program of the University of Arizona’s School of Journalism. This golden opportunity is a temptation that is impossible for Josie to resist.
Unfortunately, pursuing that exciting goal proves to be not only the risk of reliving excruciating memories associated with baseball by being around the game again, but a huge risk to her heart as well. Garrett turns out to be everything she wants in a potential boyfriend except for his fatal flaw. He is someone who loves baseball more than anyone or anything else in life, just like her father.
This young adult novel has an absolutely wonderful romance plot and a fabulous, classic, coming of age plot alongside it which is integral to the romance plot. I personally consider this a romantic dramedy. There is a great deal of hilariously witty banter between Josie and Garrett, which is my absolute favorite source of humor in a romantic comedy. In addition, there is compelling, and sometimes heart-wrenching drama in the form of Josie’s growth arc across the book as she begins to consciously confront the emotional devastation she suffered due to her father’s desertion. I found it extremely moving as she slowly and painfully reclaims her lost trust in herself and others and, most of all, reclaims her love of baseball. In spite of her sometimes unsympathetic, harsh rejection of Garrett due to her fear of abandonment, Josie has a very moving journey from distrust to trust across the length of this poignantly written novel.
Garrett is a fabulous romantic hero. Both vulnerable and strong, he is very compassionate and supportive toward Josie. His discipline and dedication to baseball is admirable, and the tremendous effort he goes to in order to create a relationship with Josie makes him ideal boyfriend material.
I very much enjoyed that Josie has a mutually loving and respectful relationship with her mother. But at the same time, her mother’s inability to deal with her own abandonment issues after her bitter divorce from Josie’s father has caused her to harmfully encourage Josie to be as risk averse in relationships as she herself is. The author does an outstanding job of seamlessly weaving together their mutual journeys of healing which are purposeful echoes of each other.
One of the most significant things that a romance novel can achieve is to prove the inherit premise of the romance genre, that the romantic protagonists are soulmates who have found true love in each other. A major way to achieve that goal is to portray the romantic protagonists making huge sacrifices for each other in order to be worthy of true love. Unfortunately that does not always, or even frequently, occur in romance novels. But this novel absolutely does offer inspiring mutual self-sacrifice and does it brilliantly.
I really enjoyed the overarching theme of baseball in this novel and the fact that it is such an integral part of the evolution of this romance. I am not a particular fan of baseball myself, but I believe the author wrote the baseball scenes extremely well, with enough baseball lore included to give believable color to the scenes, but not so much as to be overwhelming or boring to the uninitiated.
Overall, in every way possible, this is an outstandingly written young adult romance. I will definitely be reading this book again in the future, and it will be a treasured keeper in my Kindle library.
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 5
Baseball Plot: 5