Sidelined

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Sidelined
Author(s)
Age Range
14+
Release Date
September 21, 2021
ISBN
978-0759557512
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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 Meridien, 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.

Editor review

1 review
Football and relationships in Texas
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Julian is looking forward to his senior year in Meridien, Texas. He wants to play football and hopefully get scouted for a college scholarship. He's been living with Grandma Birdie since the death of his father, who also played football and had been hoping to set up a community center for kids in town. When his grandmother has a "surprise guest" for him, he never thinks that it will be Elijah. Elijah and his family moved away suddenly several years before, and Julian was devastated not only because the two had been friends for a long time, but because he hoped that after the two shared a kiss, they might be more than friends. Now, Elijah is back at school and living with Birdie and Julian until his mother, teenage sister, and her baby can move to town. Elijah's father is in prison, and everyone in the small town suspects that Elijah is just like his father. Since he was accused of trying to steal fund raiser money before his family left town, it's a hard thing to shake. However, he's not like his father, and he's a bit upset that in his absence, Julian had a boyfriend, Reece. When Elijah gets back on the football team, there is some tension. One of the issues is that the team always pranks their rival school before the big game, and Julian wants to put an end to this tradition because he thinks his father would want that, but when he finds out the truth about his father, things become complicated. Can Elijah and Julian navigate their shared history and find a way to go forward?
Good Points
This young adult book captures the essence of senior year; both boys are trying to make the most of their time remaining in high school, but just want to move forward with college plans and escaping their small town. There is a lot of angst over incidents that really aren't that important, and Julian's hatred of the pranks is well founded, but also not taken seriously. He and Elijah aren't quite sure how to act around each other, and waste a lot of time avoiding each other. This is a great depiction of that uncertain time leading up to high school graduation.

We are finally seeing books with gay characters who aren't coming out, but who instead are trying to figure out their relationships. This seems to be an accurate portrayal, and the difficulties caused by past history certainly inform their current actions and lead to some tension. It's refreshing that the ending is fairly happy.

My only complaint about the book is that there is not quite enough football! This is more along the lines of Schmidt's Bookish Boyfriends: Get a Clue, instead of Herbach's Stupid Fast or Cracking the Bell, which are both young adult books with lots of good football details. If you're looking for more romance and small town drama than football, this is perfect.
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