3.5 Hearts--I went to prom whether I wanted to or not...
I saw this story tagged as New Adult, so I was hoping the high school setting wasn't going to be as central as it was. This story is YA w/ light sexy times, in fact I think this could be tagged as YA that adults can read and enjoy.
For my first Sage C. Holloway, I can say I was intrigued by Playing For the Other Team. I was left wanting to know more about the boys, their school and home lives. The book's central theme is coming out/ self actualization for high school senior Bryson.
Bryson with the natural silver hair (his hair is prematurely gray) who is not only a baseball jock and has graduation on the horizon. Bryson has been questioning his sexuality and finally does something about this crush on his fellow art class classmate, Jasper Reyes. Jasper is out of the closet, not hiding his sexuality in the least. So when Bryson blurts out his feelings to his crush, it changes everything.
This story goes through the final days for both seniors. That is stressful enough, add in strong personalities of side characters and this story delivers something that is readable. Loved the chapter names. Playing For the Other Team is told in Bryson's first POV. I enjoyed being in his head. Both boys barely spoke to each other throughout their high school careers and that fateful prom night changes their course.
I liked the overall tone, it seemed appropriate for the setting and the characters. For example, first crush panic or coming out to family and friends. Bryson has a d-bag BFF named Trip (who already didn't win points for me with the name alone), a mother who needs tips on parenting, a supportive sister and a childhood full of crap memories. Jasper helps guide him in accepting he is gay and that the world doesn't suddenly build a sign on your forehead declaring all who you meet that you're gay.
"What sort of stuff do gay guys generally talk about?"
"Oh you know. Fashion. Rainbows. Makeup."
I snorted. "You forgot unicorns."
"That's implied," he said with an impressively serious face.
Sadly, this isn't a five heart read for me despite enjoying the main characters, especially Jasper. The story got wonky with certain decisions made:
the stalking angle - I think the story had enough meat on the bone to have to add an abusive ex for added drama. The crazy ex also gets his hands on confidential documents (how?) and breaks HIPAA without any retribution or consequence. And the school blames the victim which was inconceivable for me. I don't care how small the school was, it was a bullshit decision.I find the entire school's response to be BS and there should have been a parent involved from the start.
retribution for stalking/gay bashing - the ending was bland compared to the story's stronger first half. Trigger warning: gay bashing The gay bashing - though the perpetrator and co going for the second victim didn't make sense. If someone spread rumors you and you're a homophobic douche, wouldn't you go for the one spreading the rumors in the first place? And the consequences of their actions was rushed. I think apologies and jail time was in order.
Some of the actions I thought were effective in being realistic. Teens have sex. Teens make stupid choices. These teens in this book have sex and make stupid choices.
No walking Ken dolls here, though there isn't an abundance of sex here - what was given fits the main character's personalities. Kudos for not jumping into things when not both people are ready.
I wish this story could have been a little more concrete in a few areas including the HFN ending. I wanted to know more about the future of the boys. Maybe there will be a sequel? The story deals with heavy topics: gay bashing, being raised in a single parent home with a parent who checks out from life, being forced out the closet, bullying, stalking, abuse from past relationships, STDs to name a few.
And through it all the boys developed a strong friendship and a sweet little romance with a light tone.