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When I first saw the premise of this book, I thought it looked like the sweetest thing ever. I always go for books with super cute romance (and often not the most plot) so this looked like the perfect fit.
And it did not disappoint! But let’s save all that for the review!
“An emotional YA romance about small town secrets, high school football, and broken hearts.
Julian Jackson has a short to-do list for his senior year at Crenshaw County High School in Meridian, Texas: football, football, and more football. He knows he’s only got one chance to earn a college scholarship and make it out of his small town, and keeping his head down, his grades up, and his cleats on the field is that one chance. And then Elijah Vance walks back into his life, throwing all of his carefully-laid plans into a tailspin.
Elijah and Julian used to be best friends, maybe even on their way to something more than just friends. But three years ago, Elijah broke into the school to steal money from the coach’s office, and Julian was the one who turned him in. After that, Elijah and his family disappeared without a trace. And now he’s back, sitting at Julian’s grandmother’s kitchen table.
But time and distance haven’t erased all of their feelings, and Elijah knows that he finally has a chance to prove to Julian that he’s not the same person he was three years ago. But with secrets still growing between them and an uncertain future barreling towards them, it may be harder to lean on each other than they thought.“
I connected with this book straight away and immediately knew I was going to really enjoy it. The writing was fun and the characters were so sweet and angsty.
Basically, it was just a really fun, end-of-summer read. It didn’t take up much brain space (which is great now that I’ve started school again!) but it also kept me really engaged throughout.
Julian is captain of the school football team, excited for the major match coming up at the end of term, except for the fact that as captain, he is expected to organize the school prank for this year. Unbeknown to him, an old friend (or could it be a little more than that?) is returning to town, to stay with Julian and Birdie (his grandma) for a few weeks. The only thing is, Elijah disappeared suddenly 3 years ago without saying goodbye. So why is he back now?
For me, there was also a little too much focus on football and school traditions (that’s just my individual taste!). I felt like it took away from the romance a bit too much but I could mostly look past that.
The exploration of teenage pregnancy (Elijah leaves town after his sister becomes regnant while in high school) was nicely done in my opinion, without taking over the whole story. The conversations surrounding it were crafted thoughtfully, and Elijah’s sister was also a really lovely character!
“That’s ridiculous, Elijah. It was one kiss. You’re the one that walked away without saying goodbye”– sidelined
The small town feel was captured really well (even if I can’t completely understand the small town American lifestyle). It made for a really cute contemporary read and I felt totally immersed in the world throughout the book (even whilst reading from the English countryside!).
“Dear Elijah, You broke my heart.
Dear Elijah, I loved you”– Sidelined
The two main characters, Julian and Elijah, were a little generic but ultimately very cute. I found both their perspectives immersive to read from (I was equally interested in both) and I liked how easy it was to differentiate between them. It felt so easy to get into their headspace and understand their angsty teenage feelings.
The romance was super sweet and full of angst but I would have liked it to be developed a little more. I really enjoyed how well fleshed-out their history was (it made the tension so good!) but a bit more tension within the current plot would have been nice.
“It never stopped meaning something to me, either.”– sidelined
Julian lives with his (grandma) ‘Birdie’, who is loved throughout the town and who was the most adorable character. I loved the inclusion of an older character not just as a relation to the main character– she was a fun and sweet person completely in her own right!
Julian’s best friend Camille was a really great (if a little predictable) side character and definitely added a really bubbly aspect to the book and dialogue.
“Because it was all you were willing to give me. And I’d rather have you hating me than not have you at all.”– sidelined
All in all this was a really quick and cute read. The teenage angst and romance kept me interested throughout, but the plot and worldbuilding were never overwhelming or overly complicated 🙂