by Michelle Smith
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In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything. Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.
Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma's flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius; she's also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there's something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek -- he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.
As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa’s pain, it forces him to look beyond the façade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn’t everything—maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.
First of all, are you suffering from the awful Monday sucks syndrome? Let’s take a look at the symptoms :
✘ You’re morphed into a grumpy Grinch, and you scowl way too often
✘ You either don’t answer right away when asked for doing something or you’re doing it muttering to yourself that people are killjoy
If that’s the case, I’ve got what you need : indeed this book, while not free of flaws, is for me the perfect medicine to kick this syndrome’s ass.
➊ Austin’s head is full of shit. Full of cheese. Full of insta-attraction. But damn, the guy is all kinds of adorable and calls himself on his crap : that’s something, isn’t it? Don’t get fooled by his superstar player status : indeed he is a dork – a cute not that confident dork, and his voice was so refreshing and believable that I didn’t even care about the insta-attraction. I was too busy laughing and smiling, I guess, because damn, the guy can think the cutest stuff and yet be straight-on ridiculous sometimes! Well, now, that’s a teenager in love for you. It remains that his inner monologues made me laugh out loud more often than not, and above that, he was loyal and cared so much about Marisa, his friends and his mother that I couldn’t help but fall in love along the way.
“Her handshake slows. “Can I have my hand back now?”
Shaking my head, I let go immediately. Smooth. Really smooth. (…)
She moves past me and laughs a little, but it sounds like one of those nervous I-think-I-just-met-a-serial-killer laughs.”
➋ Yes, Austin is completely smitten, but you know, he has a life too. Baseball. A lot of baseball. I really liked following his games
even if I’m not sure that I understood everything, being a baseball noob and all, because it was fucking realistic. I mean, how many books do we read where characters brag about being crazy about their sport and yet we never get to see them play? Yes, Austin is in love – like, the first kind of crazy love – but it doesn’t prevent him for caring about his friends (can I say that I adore this bunch of guys?), his mother, his passion. Thank you. No love erases everything else kind of crap here.
“I have no idea why, but my tongue feels like it’s glued to the roof of my mouth when I’m in the same room as this girl.
And when I do open my mouth, something stupid usually tumbles out.
“Do you eat food?”
➌ While predictable, the story stays free of my biggest peeves, that is to say : slut-shaming and useless drama. Now, I’m not saying that it doesn’t deal with hard subjects, because it does. In fact it deals with my absolute worst kind of issue : depression. Because of personal reasons, I have a (really) hard time staying calm and not getting mad when I read about characters like Marisa who suffer from depression over no particular reason. Therefore to me it’s saying something that I found it well-handled here and that it didn’t bother me (too much). Yes Marisa knows depressive episodes. No she can’t explain why. Yes it’s realistic, because I knew that – not personally, but from someone I care about a lot. Yet she tries, and tries, and tries again – she isn’t always depressed, far from it, and to me it was believable and relatable. But do you know what I absolutely loved? The fact that Austin didn’t think that he could deal with Marisa’s problems alone, and asked for help. One might say this is cowardice, but in my opinion it’s bravery. In many young adults books, we see teenagers dealing with huge problems without never asking for help and it bothers me, because that’s not the kind of message I want to spread to the young out there. Hear me out : I can’t deny that unfortunately some teenagers aren’t given the possibility to be helped but I think, I hope that it’s not the majority. When we feel overwhelmed, we have to ask for help before drowning. There’s no such thing as pride when lives are at stake.
➍ The story is predictable, but it’s male POV guys! I mean, how rare is it? HOW FUCKING REFRESHING?
I’m probably forgetting a lot of things here, but hey, sometimes you just have to keep it short. Don’t expect originality, but if you can bear some cheesy scenes and the insta-attraction going on, I’d say that you’re in for a few hours of smiles, laughs, and swooning. Sometimes it’s exactly what we need, isn’t it? And hey, Austin says himself, “[he’s] kind of the master of cheese in this relationship”. I love him anyway.