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Sidelined

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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 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 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.


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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 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 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.

30 review for Sidelined

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lu

    Thank you so much, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and NetGalley, for the chance to read and review this book in exchange of an honest review. Julian Jackson knows what to do in senior year: get good grades, play football and hoping to get a scholarship and make it out of Meridien, but all his plans are upset when his best friend (and maybe something more) comes back in his life. Elijah Vance and Julian Jackson were best friends years ago, but when Julian caught him breaking into school to Thank you so much, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and NetGalley, for the chance to read and review this book in exchange of an honest review. Julian Jackson knows what to do in senior year: get good grades, play football and hoping to get a scholarship and make it out of Meridien, but all his plans are upset when his best friend (and maybe something more) comes back in his life. Elijah Vance and Julian Jackson were best friends years ago, but when Julian caught him breaking into school to steal the car wash money and turned him in, Elijah and his family left without saying goodbay. Now that he’s back, Julian and Elijah realize time and space didn’t erase their feelings and Elijah is determined to show Julian he’s not the person everyone thinks he is. Between secrets, between them and in the city and the fear for their own futures, Julian and Elijah fight to be themselves and together. Sidelined was a brilliant, sweet and funny read I devoured right away. The story is told by two POVs, Julian’s and Elijah, while they navigate high school, expectations from others, their history together, their past and present. Julian and Elijah are very different from one other. Julian is the son of the town hero, a town obsessed with football, traditions and history, while Elijah is, unfortunately, seen as the son of Eric Vance, who is in jail and who tried to steal money, three years ago. Both of them are weighed down by people’s, right and wrong, expectations and both are struggling to fit and escape them, to show the world and themselves they are more than their fathers’ sons. Elijah’s return to Meridien upset Julian’s plans and changes everything, unearthing secrets and so much more. The story focuses on Julian and Elijah, on their journeys, getting more and more close to one other and facing the world and future together, understanding each other better, while, also, focusing on football, friends, town’s traditions and funny and moving moments. Through Julian’s and Elijah’s POVs, the author talks about their feelings, attraction and love, their passions and friends, their struggles and fears. Julian and Elijah are teenagers, dealing with school’s pressures and expectations, unpredictable futures, friends and family and they are very realistic in their feelings and actions. They fight, laugh, they are scared, upset, in love with one other, afraid to lose each other in a windwhirl of emotions and beautiful and intense moments. Their relationship is lovely, complicated by misunderstandings and secrets and I loved the way they are open with one other, talking and explaining, trusting, helping, supporting and loving one other. The author also deals with people’s prejudices and preconceptions, expectations and how hurtful they can be, how often push others into boxes and refuse to let them out. Julian and Elijah are determined to be themselves, to be seen as they are, to be free from others’ expectations and be in love and together.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Madison

    Football, friendship, romance? What’s not to love. Julian Jackson and Elijah Vance. Once childhood best friends. Now…. Three years after Elijah and his family left town, he has returned. Julian isn’t sure what to think. Does Elijah know it was Julian who called the police and told them Elijah broke the Coach’s window and was going to steal the money? Is Elijah the same boy he remembers? And does he remember that moment before he left? Elijah knows Julian isn’t happy to see him again - he makes th Football, friendship, romance? What’s not to love. Julian Jackson and Elijah Vance. Once childhood best friends. Now…. Three years after Elijah and his family left town, he has returned. Julian isn’t sure what to think. Does Elijah know it was Julian who called the police and told them Elijah broke the Coach’s window and was going to steal the money? Is Elijah the same boy he remembers? And does he remember that moment before he left? Elijah knows Julian isn’t happy to see him again - he makes that pretty clear. But is there any chance of fixing what was once between them and becoming friends again or something more? This book is so American and so Texan it’s not funny (though it is delightful). It’s a setting that just jumps from the pages and gives the perfect backdrop to this football-loving romance. This book features a gay relationship but coming out, LGBT+ relationships, sexual identity, and acceptance are not themes of this book. Julian and Elijah are both out. They are both comfortable with their sexual identity. There is not one homophobic remark, not one comment about them being together, living together, playing together. Not one eyelid is battered. And by gosh that is nice. Because, while sadly it might not be the reality for LGBT+ teens, it is lovely to have a book that is just about the characters and their feelings and their romance and their love of football and not societal problems, same as any book that features a heterosexual relationship. I thought there would be a bit more about the hurt and backstory between Julian and Elijah. While Julian is initially frosty to Elijah and they are both uncertain where they stand and the welcome to town isn’t exactly, you know, welcoming, there was little drama about the past. Far less drama than I expected, which was actually really nice. Instead, the book focuses more on football, romance, Julian’s leadership of the football team and his reluctance to participate the in the traditional pranks between the two rival football teams. In the process, we also learn more about Julian and Elijah’s fathers and how their relationships with their fathers and their fathers’ friendship impacts their decisions today. An easy book to read and enjoy, Sidelined is a delightful romance. The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shay | Books Are Magic Too

    I had never read anything from Bietz before but I was blown away by what a quick and easy to get into book this was, I was honored to be able to read it and cannot wait to pass it on to my teen. This book so seamlessly made me comfortable with Julian and Elijah, as if I was inside the story and not just a casual observer. The depth of their second chance at friendship and more, with mixed emotions, family struggles and the communities preconceived ideas of what a Texas footballer or teen from a c I had never read anything from Bietz before but I was blown away by what a quick and easy to get into book this was, I was honored to be able to read it and cannot wait to pass it on to my teen. This book so seamlessly made me comfortable with Julian and Elijah, as if I was inside the story and not just a casual observer. The depth of their second chance at friendship and more, with mixed emotions, family struggles and the communities preconceived ideas of what a Texas footballer or teen from a certain family made this book incredibly relatable. Books like this one make me so excited for teens today, to have books that they identify with and can find the tough topics to lean into. Thank you to TBR Beyond Tours for having me on this tour, and for the ARC thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and the Novl for the opportunity to read this one!

  4. 4 out of 5

    charlotte,

    well that was a disappointment Rep: gay mcs

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jodie "Bookish" Cook

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Book Review Title: Sidelined by Kara Bietz Genre: Young Adult, Romance, LGBT Rating: 4 Stars Sidelined definitely wasn’t my typical genre of reading but it was interesting. We are following to main characters, Elijah and Julian who have some history together in both good and bad ways. Julian has a plan for senior year and it involves getting good grades, playing football an obtaining a scholarship to get out of Meridien. However, all these plans are seemingly ruined when his best friend and possibl Book Review Title: Sidelined by Kara Bietz Genre: Young Adult, Romance, LGBT Rating: 4 Stars Sidelined definitely wasn’t my typical genre of reading but it was interesting. We are following to main characters, Elijah and Julian who have some history together in both good and bad ways. Julian has a plan for senior year and it involves getting good grades, playing football an obtaining a scholarship to get out of Meridien. However, all these plans are seemingly ruined when his best friend and possibly something more, Elijah returns. Year before, Julian and Elijah were good friends until Julian caught Elijah breaking into the school to steal some money and turned him in. After this Elijah and his family moved away without even saying goodbye meaning there is some bad blood between the pair at first. Both boy soon realise though that time and space hasn’t erased the feelings they have for each other and Elijah is determined to show Julian that he’s not the person everyone thinks he is. This novel at its core is a story about secret, reality and acceptance as both Julian and Elijah fight to be themselves and to be together in a world where that doesn’t fit into the expectations of them. While Sidelined wasn’t the genre I normally read I found it to be sweet and funny and I read it in a single sitting. It is told from the point of view of both Julian and Elijah which made them feel more fleshed out as characters. We see them try to navigate high school, expectations from others, their own history and what they are dealing with in the present. I really enjoyed the fact that Julian and Elijah were very different people as Julian is the son of the town hero while Elijah is son of a thief. Both boys often find themselves at times weighed down by the expectations of others and they struggle to escape them and show the world they are more than their fathers’ sons. Throughout both points of view we get to see the boys accept their feelings, attraction and love for one another. We also get to see their individual passions, struggles, fears and friends through their eyes which is always something I enjoy. However, Elijah and Julian are teenagers so everything seems a bit dramatic at times even when it doesn’t need to be. Their relationship as a whole was a lovely dynamic but it is often complicated by misunderstanding and miscommunication which is a trope I personally despise which put me off a little but they do eventually figure out how to talk through their feelings learning to trust and support each other. Bietz really focuses on people’s prejudices and preconceptions when it comes to Juliana dn Elijah and how hurtful they can be. Despite this, Julian and Elijah are determined to be themselves and be free from expectations which they do manage to achieve. Overall, Sidelined was a very enjoyable read but it did have some hit or miss moments for me personally. I felt that the writing was good but a little young for my taste but I’ve learnt to deal with that in young adult novels. Most of my issues stem from the romance, the miscommunication trope is used a lot during the first half of the book and it was just unnecessary been as Elijah and Julian are good at communicating for the majority of the novel, it is only when feelings for each other are involved which made me feel off as the miscommunication trope is something that I hate especially when the novel is centred around a romance. Apart from that I thought Sidelined was very good and it got a 4 star rating from me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paige Green

    Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: Sidelined Author: Kara Bietz Book Series: Standalone Diversity: Gay MC raised by grandma, Gay MC raised by single mom, M/m romance Rating: 4/5 Recommended For...: young adult readers, contemporary, sports, sports romance, football, m/m romance Genre: YA Contemporary Sports Romance Publication Date: September 21, 2021 Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers Pages: 306 Recommended Age: 13+ (Religion, Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: Sidelined Author: Kara Bietz Book Series: Standalone Diversity: Gay MC raised by grandma, Gay MC raised by single mom, M/m romance Rating: 4/5 Recommended For...: young adult readers, contemporary, sports, sports romance, football, m/m romance Genre: YA Contemporary Sports Romance Publication Date: September 21, 2021 Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers Pages: 306 Recommended Age: 13+ (Religion, Romance, Teen pregnancy) Explanation of CWs: Religion is central to the plot, but there's no homophobia or religion used to further homophobia. No one really cares they're gay. Romance is sweet and subtle. Just kisses and hugs. Teen pregnancy is used as a plot device to further the main characters romance and friendship. Synopsis: 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. Review: For the most part I liked this book a lot. I loved the sports romance and how well connected the boys were. I liked the enemies to lovers aspect and how well developed all of the characters were. The world building was also well done. However, there's just some things in the book that didn't land well for me. Teen pregnancy was used as a plot device to further the romance between the two boys and once that was done it was never really talked about again. The book had two tropes: miscommunication and enemies to lovers. Both were solved mid way through the book. The cover scene on the book isn't even in the novel and, with the exception of one mention in the book, it nor the title connect with the story at all. The last chapter is a jump forward and it's disjointing and not detailed that it's a jump forward. And I just kinda felt like the issues Elijah had were resolved with Julian, but not with the town overall. Verdict: Overall, good m/m romance but not enough plot behind the story.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central 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 ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central 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? 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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shelf Blame

    Thank you to Little Brown Books for Young Readers for the ARC of this book! Sidelined by Kara Bietz is a sweet high school romance about second chances - both in life and love. Julian has plans for his senior year. Get through, make good grades, beat rival school Taylor in the big game, and secure a scholarship to get out of his small Texas town. All that is upended though when his former best friend Elijah shows back up in town after three years of being gone. His best friend who was on the way t Thank you to Little Brown Books for Young Readers for the ARC of this book! Sidelined by Kara Bietz is a sweet high school romance about second chances - both in life and love. Julian has plans for his senior year. Get through, make good grades, beat rival school Taylor in the big game, and secure a scholarship to get out of his small Texas town. All that is upended though when his former best friend Elijah shows back up in town after three years of being gone. His best friend who was on the way to becoming something more until he abandoned Julian without a word. Elijah meanwhile, just wants to get through his senior year with his head down and without the poor reputation his father has left him. Julian was always the golden boy, and Elijah just wants to make things work with his former best friend, even if that means putting feelings aside. I really loved the small-town Friday Night Lights feel of this book. I'm from the south and so much of this rang true for me. It was like a glass of sweet tea for my soul! The book revolves around football and the 'big game' against a rival school and the pressure of living up the expectations of a town where the high school football team is the pride and joy. Bietz manages to weave these themes together with first love and the complex bit of emotion that comes with realizing the friend you've had for so long could be more than a friend. Both Elijah and Julian were likable characters for different reasons, and for all their differences, they made sense. Another thing I really liked about this book was the complete lack of homophobia. No one cared that the quarterback was gay. No one cared that the kid that caused trouble was gay. Both characters were already out, so there was no big coming out moment or forced coming out. It just wasn't an issue, even in this tiny Texas town where in reality, it probably would've been a big issue. I love that bit of comfort here, and I enjoyed the book all that much more for it! Definitely a sweet, quick read for anyone who wants a bit of comfort. There's conflict of course, but nothing that can't be figured out. Really enjoyed this one!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (ofproseandspells)

    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 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. 4/5 stars! I would like to thank TBR Beyond Tours for hosting this book tour. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dilly

    *I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion on the book at all.* What happens when your ex-best friend, who kinda sorta kissed you before disappearing the next day, comes back into town and joins the football team with you? Nothing good, right? Right? Okay stay with me here: this book is a friends-to-almost lovers-to-enemies-to-friends-to-lovers. Got it? No? Well, keep up! This book grabbed me from page one. The main thing I look for in books i *I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion on the book at all.* What happens when your ex-best friend, who kinda sorta kissed you before disappearing the next day, comes back into town and joins the football team with you? Nothing good, right? Right? Okay stay with me here: this book is a friends-to-almost lovers-to-enemies-to-friends-to-lovers. Got it? No? Well, keep up! This book grabbed me from page one. The main thing I look for in books is a good mc. Julian and Elijah were some of the best mc’s that I’ve read in a sporty book. They are both SUCH cinnamon rolls and I absolutely adore them. Another thing that pulled me in is the small town: both Julian and Elijah are out to their town but the thing I love most is no one cares. As important as books about coming out are, I love reading a queer book that’s focused on relationships: emotional or otherwise. There is also a moment in the story where “oh no, there’s only one tent!” So that was really fun to see. Football is another really big part of this story, and I adored the way this author wrote it in. The story is definitely built around football but that does not take away from any of the internal struggles the characters face or their emotions! In fact, there is a sort of small town mystery that the two guys have to uncover and things only get more emotional from there. Overall, Bietz’s characters have strong, distinct voices and form some really amazing bonds. This story is an emotional ride for sure, and there is lots of discussion of things that high schoolers deal with. IT COMES OUT SEPTEMBER 21ST, BUT YOU CAN PREORDER IT NOW!!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carli

    Thanks to Edelweiss and Little, Brown for the advance Kindle copy of this book, which published 9.21.21. All opinions are my own. • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 for this sports romance. Years ago, after they shared their first kiss, Julian’s best friend Elijah left town in the middle of the night. Julian partly blames himself, since he was the one who reported Elijah for breaking into the coach’s office with the intent to steal cash. Now, years later, Elijah shows up to stay with Julian and his grandmother. He’s ba Thanks to Edelweiss and Little, Brown for the advance Kindle copy of this book, which published 9.21.21. All opinions are my own. • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 for this sports romance. Years ago, after they shared their first kiss, Julian’s best friend Elijah left town in the middle of the night. Julian partly blames himself, since he was the one who reported Elijah for breaking into the coach’s office with the intent to steal cash. Now, years later, Elijah shows up to stay with Julian and his grandmother. He’s back on the football team too. Can the pair mend the rift between them, and win on the field while they’re at it? Recommended for grades 7+.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Flor Teijeiro

    "'What's going on with the two of you?' I look over at him again, and we both stifle a laugh. I reach of his hand an loop his pikie in mine. I look Camille in the eye and say, 'Oh, nothing'. She looks down at our hands. 'All right, then.' She laughs. 'I like this kind of nothing. The two of you have been fighting this nothing for way too long. I'm happy to see nothing is happening, finally". Reseña completa muy pronto en: http://bibliofilasincura.blogspot.com "'What's going on with the two of you?' I look over at him again, and we both stifle a laugh. I reach of his hand an loop his pikie in mine. I look Camille in the eye and say, 'Oh, nothing'. She looks down at our hands. 'All right, then.' She laughs. 'I like this kind of nothing. The two of you have been fighting this nothing for way too long. I'm happy to see nothing is happening, finally". Reseña completa muy pronto en: http://bibliofilasincura.blogspot.com

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    It's been three years since Elijah disappeared overnight without saying goodbye to Julian-- and now he's back in their small Texas town, staying in Julian's house. What little remains of their friendship is on shaky ground as they navigate their high school football team as well as everything that existed in the three-year space between them. Family, legacies, and complicated history are just a few of the things that drive this honest and sporty novel to the end zone. It's been three years since Elijah disappeared overnight without saying goodbye to Julian-- and now he's back in their small Texas town, staying in Julian's house. What little remains of their friendship is on shaky ground as they navigate their high school football team as well as everything that existed in the three-year space between them. Family, legacies, and complicated history are just a few of the things that drive this honest and sporty novel to the end zone.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Justin Williams

    An easy and delightful book to read. Elijah and Julian are loveable nuanced characters. And all the side characters are amazing as well. Especially Camille. I loved that this wasn’t a coming out story and that these were characters who are comfortable in their sexuality. Overall I really enjoyed this and I’m excited to read another book by Kara Bietz

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Pegram

    Both narrators in this YA football romance grab your heart and never let go (in a good way). The story of them untangling the past to find their way back to each other keeps the pages turning, and the small town Texas setting comes alive like another character.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tiffanny

    Entertaining quick read. I feel like the majority of the book was about their fathers, the town secrecy and the prank. I was looking forward to reading about the romance. The conflict at the end felt rushed so it was hard for me to sympathize with Elijah when he got upset.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Josej Polo

    Elijah, oh my poor boy! you deserve a million hugs

  18. 4 out of 5

    Isabel

    Nice book. Expected a bit more, but was good 👍

  19. 4 out of 5

    the.argumentative.bong

    3.75⭐ (rounded off)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sherry

    An excellent read. Hard to put down. Great book Kara!!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    meep

    Ending was a bit of a letdown. So much hype for a certain event and we don’t even get to see it … also that time jump made me sad.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Zeman

    Football, family, tradition…first love…a nice, quick read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rafael Andrade

    Football, gay romance, and a pinch of teenage drama is the perfect combination for a good YA LGBTQIA+ novel. Julian and Elijah, best friends and maybe something more, go their separate ways after an unfortunate event back in their sophomore year. Three years later, Elijah returns to his hometown and has to spend some time living with Julian and his Grandmother. As the events of the past start to catch up with them, the boys will have to learn that every story has two sides. The classic friends t Football, gay romance, and a pinch of teenage drama is the perfect combination for a good YA LGBTQIA+ novel. Julian and Elijah, best friends and maybe something more, go their separate ways after an unfortunate event back in their sophomore year. Three years later, Elijah returns to his hometown and has to spend some time living with Julian and his Grandmother. As the events of the past start to catch up with them, the boys will have to learn that every story has two sides. The classic friends to lovers, lovers to enemies, and enemies to lovers again, that will put a smile on your face.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

  25. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Rolón

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mr. Horror

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sonically

  28. 4 out of 5

    Richard Zelenka

  29. 4 out of 5

    brenda

  30. 5 out of 5

    KC

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