Thursday, June 09, 2022

Goal-Driven Characters Are Very Readable

Copy provided by NetGalley

Publication date: June 7. 2022

I am embarrassed to say that June being Pride Month really hasn't been on my radar the way, say, Black History Month and Women's History Month are. I have been noticing references to it the last week or so, though, and as random luck would have it, I just finished reading a book that marks the occasion

I wasn't attracted to Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler by the romance. I don't care for romance by itself. Person meets person stories end with our leads getting together, so I feel I know the ending before I even begin. I need a surrounding story for my romance reading. And I wasn't attracted by the football, because I am only a sports fan during the Olympics, and pretty picky even then. What did lead me to ask for the galley was the knowledge that both the cheerleader in Home Field Advantage and the quarterback are girls. I haven't read a lot of those. To date.

Amber McCloud is a popular cheer leader who is shooting for cheer captain, because it will help her chances for college. Jack Walsh is a gifted football player who has been brought in to replace Amber's high school's late lamented QB who was nowhere near as good as Jack is. In fact, the whole team is not on Jack's level. But they are grieving their dead teammate who died unexpectedly, and Jack, being Jacklyn, becomes a target for both misogyny and homophobia.

Goals, Goals, Goals

Amber is a somewhat closeted lesbian--what happens at cheer camp stays at cheer camp--dating a somewhat closeted gay football player, Miguel. One of the particularly interesting aspects of this book, I thought, was that neither Amber nor Miguel have any problems with their sexuality. Nor is family acceptance a major issue for them. They are not out, because coming out will hinder them reaching goals. Amber sees making cheer captain as a stepping stone to college and getting out of town and she doesn't see the cheer team embracing a lesbian no matter how good she is. Miguel wants to play football. His one experience with another player knowing his reality did not go well for him.

Jack, too, is very goal-oriented. A high-achieving female football player has few options. Playing with this loser team may be the only opportunity she will ever have to play football. It may be a stepping stone to some kind of sports-related career.

What these characters want to achieve makes their behavior make sense. Giving characters something to want is cliched writer advice. Give them a goal! 

Oh. Wait. Football has goals, doesn't it?

I am not fond of alternating points of view, and sometimes I felt Amber and Jack got too introspective for my taste. But this was a narrative with drive and some unique characters for this reader. I was even up for a football scene. I've only been vaguely aware that LGBTQ books are a thing in YA. Home Field Advantage definitely encourages me to read more.

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