Title: Home Field Advantage
Author: Dahlia Adler
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication: 7 June 2022
I received an advanced copy from Netgalley and Wednesday books in exchange for an honest review.
Amber McCloud has a dream to become captain of the cheer team, but it’s a bit hard to be peppy and spirited when the quarterback has been killed in a car accident. For both the team and the squad, watching Robbie get replaced by newcomer Jack Walsh is brutal. And when it turns out Jack is actually short for Jaclyn, all hell breaks loose. Now, Amber is caught between her squad, her sisterhood, and her heart as her and Jack are falling in love with each other.
Okay, this was pretty cute. As someone who grew up in a football town, I absolutely loved all the football and cheer references. It’s totally true that small towns are high school football obsessed. Jack was such a great character and I absolutely loved her, my heart broke for her so many times throughout the book. When she starts on the team, she is frozen out my all and treated like shit by quite a few on the team and the squad. They not only hate the fact that she’s a girl, but it doesn’t help that she’s way, way, way better than Robbie ever was.
Amber is the only one who actually is somewhat nice to Jack, at least in private. She’s afraid to lose everything she has, which is understandable. But it does get a bit tiring after a while. Each time Cara, Amber’s best friend, says or does something that is homophobic or just plain horrible, Amber goes on and on for a paragraph or two about how great Cara is/was. The first time made sense, but bringing it up each and every time got a bit repetitive. I totally agree that it’s a person’s own choice when and if they come out, but how Amber treats not only Jack but her best friend, Miguel (a football player and Amber’s beard) is pretty shitty.
There were quite a few scenes that were pretty uncomfortable. I get that the point of the book was about the students adjusting to a girl quarterback in a small town, but it was hard to read the scenes of the team being sexist, misogynistic, homophobic towards Jack. So be warned if that is not your cup of tea.
This was a really cute novel and it does have a happy ending, which is what redeemed it. I wish there was a bit more about the football coach and the players facing a bit more backlash of their treatment (or lack of support from the coach). I’m especially annoyed by the fact that the coach never really had to deal with his lack of responsibility towards not disciplining the team for their treatment of Jack considering that he was the adult in the situation.
I do want to give a shout out to Amber’s mom who is awesome and amazing and definitely the mom I wish I could’ve had growing up. It was definitely a fun book, about queer kids growing up in the south.
Happy Reading Darlings!