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 would like to thank TBR Beyond Tours for hosting this book tour. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Sidelined by Kara Bietz is a light, quick read that I finished in one sitting. It is a story of second chances, understanding, and love.
The story follows Julian and Elijah who had been best friends, maybe even more than friends years ago, when Elijah suddenly disappeared in his life without saying goodbye. In their senior year, Julian already planned out what he had to do in hope to get a scholarship and make it out of Meridien. However, Elijah suddenly came back. Three years were not enough to completely forget their feelings for each other, and Elijah was determined to prove himself to Julian. With the town’s secrets, misunderstanding, and pressure of winning the season game, would Julian and Elijah surpass these challenges?
The story was told in dual perspective of the two main characters. Because of this, readers could easily learn about the characters’ emotions, struggles, and fears. I think the author did a great job portraying the characters for they acted exactly what most teenagers do in their age. It was also quite refreshing to read how the characters were comfortable with their sexual identity. The story is mainly about how Elijah and Julian figuring out their feelings and where they wanted their relationship to go. Moreover, prejudice and small town secrets and traditions were also discussed which added other layers to the story.
The characters were fleshed out enough as well. The history between Elijah and Juliann was well-written, although I was expecting more angst on it. The two main characters somehow had opposite personalities but still I really enjoyed their dynamics.
Overall, Sidelined by Kara Bietz was a sweet, delightful read. This novel perfectly captured the aspects of teenage love, football, and senior year. I recommend this novel to readers looking for a fast, yet adorable queer read.
Kara Bietz was born in New England but currently resides just outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her family. Her first novel, Until I Break, was a Texas Library Association Spirit of Texas Reading Program selection. Her newest release, Sidelined, is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.
When she’s not writing, you can find Kara hanging out with her family, singing show tunes to her dogs, and adding to her impressive pen collection.
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