Football has never been my thing. When I was in college and my boyfriend had a Super Bowl party, I took a book with me and read through most of the game. I don't have a team I root for, not college nor NFL. I understand the game, I just don't care about it despite living with a husband (the same one to whose party I took a book) and two sons who love watching it every night that it's on tv. I suspect that I'm not terribly unusual in not caring about it, especially for a woman. The main character in Emily Giffin's newest novel though, is not like me. She lives and breathes football.
Shea Rigsby is in her thirties. She's a talented writer but she's settled for a job in the athletic department of her university rather than pursuing a job she'd love because it keeps her close to her beloved Walker Broncos. Shea grew up revering Walker football and everything associated with it, like most everyone else in her small Texas town. She never had any urge to leave Walker, growing up there and then going to college there as well. But when her best friend's mother dies young, Shea finds herself taking stock of her life and safe choices she's made. She sees that she has been taking the easy and comfortable route in both her love life and her work life and that this is no longer good enough because it can't make her as happy as she deserves to be. So Shea chooses to move forward instead of continuing to coast, breaking up with her boyfriend and reaching out for a sports reporting job, leaving the cocoon of the university. As she makes these big decisions, she is supported by her best friend Lucy's father, Coach Carr, the popular and winning head coach of the Walker team, a man with whom she has had a special bond her entire life.
Shea has always had a bit of a crush on Coach Carr and she is happy to check up on him after his wife dies. When she starts feeling more for Coach than she should, she tries to pull back and distract herself by dating a big NFL star and former Walker player. But her obsession with football and her loyalty to and interest in her team keep throwing her into Coach's orbit, making it hard for her to deny her growing feelings.
The novel is filled with football jargon and information; after all, football is akin to religion in Texas. While football permeates every aspect of the novel, the main plot line is what will happen with Shea's growing awareness of and interest in Coach. The fact that she calls her best friend's father hot and that she is attracted to him makes for a definite ick factor and I was skeeved out by her falling for a man who was not only old enough to be her father but in many ways actually was her surrogate father, giving any potential relationship a slightly incestuous feel. But my discomfort with the developing situation did keep me turning the pages in hopes that I would be wrong in the end. There are other less well developed threads here, an abusive boyfriend, NCAA violations, and Shea's own family dysfunction, but they are handled lightly and pale beside the main plot. If you need something quick to read beside the pool this summer and you have at least a passing interest in football or college sports, this could be the book for you.
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Thanks to Janay from Book Sparks PR and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.