Delightful, G-rated, humorous, young adult, sports romance
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: June 10, 2019
Pages: 146 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Christine is a 17-year-old senior who is a basketball prodigy. All of her closest friends are fellow basketball jocks like her, but Christine is not remotely what anyone could dare to label, a cliché, “dumb jock.” She is an outstanding student whose ambitious goals are to pay for college with a basketball scholarship, major in science, and pursue a career as a geologist.
Dylan is a 17-year-old senior who is new to Christine’s hometown, Petoskey, Michigan, a real-world, small, scenic community on Lake Michigan. He hopes to fit in and make friends during his last year in high school. Which is made much more likely by the fact that, though his father is an extremely wealthy, influential man, and Dylan is tall, handsome, and an excellent basketball player, he never acts like an arrogant, entitled, jock, rich boy. He wins a place in the starting lineup of the boys’ varsity team, and it is essential that he keep up his grades. First on the list is to raise his average in geology. Since this is Christine’s top subject, he initially gets to know her when she is assigned to him as a tutor by the school counselor.
Soon after that session, Dylan encounters Christine after school at the gym, where they have both gone to get in extra basketball practice. It immediately becomes evident that Christine is better at basketball than every first-string player on the boys’ varsity team, including himself. But rather than feeling his masculinity is threatened by a talented female athlete, Dylan is impressed by Christine and does not hesitate to tell her so.
They begin regularly meeting to practice together one-on-one after school, and he soon proposes a challenge for Christine that she can’t resist. He offers to keep track of every single basket she makes in a row, per each, individual practice. In the process, he soon finds out what Christine already knows. She never misses a shot. Over the course of several days, her tally rises higher and higher, until Dylan counts all the way up to her making 53 baskets straight. In the midst of this startling achievement, Christine accumulates an ever-growing crowd of admiring onlookers, including both the girls’ and the boys’ basketball coaches. In fact, Dylan concludes in awe, she is well on her way to eventually matching the record set by the famous NBA player, Steph Curry. (Who dunked 77 consecutive 3-pointers at a practice, and out of the 100 3-pointers that he shot that same day, he made 94.)
Soon Dylan’s respect for the superlative athletic ability of Christine, combined with the fact that he has definitely noticed that she is a very attractive young woman, leads to his developing a huge crush on his new friend. Unfortunately for him, though, he does not find out until after he kisses Christine–an overture that she accepts and reciprocates with enthusiasm–that she has a pre-existing, long-distance relationship.
Eddie, the boyfriend in question, has been away from town for the past two years. That whole time, Christine has written to him faithfully every week, and has not been interested in any other boy until now, with Dylan. But Dylan and Christine find their budding, romantic feelings for each other drastically thwarted, when Eddie unexpectedly returns. Though he is no longer the same boy she knew and loved, Christine’s conscience insists that she owes her loyalty to Eddie, not Dylan.
This G-rated story was a truly delightful reading experience for me, because it contains multiple elements that I most enjoy in a young adult novel:
—An assertive, focused, intelligent heroine. Christine has these qualities in abundance.
—A heroine who is an elite athlete. Christine is a prodigy.
—A romance plot with witty, comedic moments. There are enough laugh-out-loud moments to qualify this book as a romantic comedy.
—A romantic hero who regards the heroine as an equal, or even better, admits she is better than he is at their shared sport, in this case, basketball. Dylan is a fabulous romantic hero whose respect for Christine’s intelligence and athletic abilities is wonderful to see.
An absolutely terrific aspect of this book is that there are multiple scenes in which Christine is allowed by the author to display her athletic prowess. In other words, we aren’t just told she’s the best, we see it on stage. More often than you might imagine, young adult novels that profess to be female-centric sports romances simply tell the reader the heroine is a star athlete, rather than including scenes that show her talent in action.
In addition, my pleasure in the basketball scenes was enhanced by the fact that basketball is the only major sport that I am personally quite familiar with and fond of. I played on a girls’ basketball team in high school myself, though admittedly, very badly, and only my freshman year. But I was also a huge fan who never missed a game of both the girls’ and boys’ teams. For this reason, it was a blast to vicariously experience being a basketball star like Christine. I also felt happy envy that she has such an amazing, supportive, respectful, metrosexual, male friend in her life as Dylan.
I also really enjoyed the scenes with Dylan’s mother and his family’s cook-housekeeper, who has been with their family all of Dylan’s life, in a capacity very much like Alice of The Brady Bunch. It was a refreshing change for me from all the cruel, stupid or invisible parents in the majority of YA novels.
One thing I was not personally fond of in this book is that it contains a romantic triangle. However, I admit freely that this common trope seems to be no problem for many fans of the young adult genre (harking straight back to Twilight).
Interestingly, in spite of this book being G-rated, in that there is no sexual expression beyond kissing, the author is quite frank in openly, but never crudely, portraying the powerful sensual chemistry that Christine experiences with both Dylan and Eddie, who are each extremely good-looking guys with ripped physiques. This dual, sexual attraction realistically and understandably clouds her judgment, even though it is made clear that she is a virgin, when she must ultimately choose between the two boys.
All in all, this novel is a joy to read.
I rate it as follows:
Romance Plot: 4
Romance Triangle Plot: 3
Basketball Plot: 5