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theunicorner

theunicorner

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Margaret Atwood
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Playing With the Boys - Liz Tigelaar There is a reason this book went directly to my finished list without passing through "to read" or "currently reading," and that reason is that I read the entire thing in two days. I had to go the Big Island this weekend and I was flying on Hawaiian, which has to go down in history as the most oft-delayed airline ever. Two delayed flights equals a lot of time sitting around in airports with nothing better to do than read YA fiction, so I went through this one pretty quickly. The novel begins when Lucy, the heroine, and her widower father move to L.A. from Ohio. The exceedingly trite descriptions of SoCal made me roll my eyes, and I wondered if all this author knew of SoCal came from Beach Boys songs and Disney's California Adventure. But then I read the little bio on the back and found out she was a writer for some pretty big TV shows and lives in Santa Monica. Oy. After boggling a bit at how an apparently seasoned TV writer could fail so utterly at decent description (of a place where she lives, no less!), I decided that I didn't care and moved on. I don't read these novels for realism, and I'm fairly sure no one else does, either. If I really wanted to pick on realism I'd have mentioned that the Ashlee Simpson lookalike on the cover is about as believable as a football player as Tara Reid is playing an academic. Oh wait. Anyway, Lucy resents her father for moving her out to Malibu away from all her friends in Toledo. But a bit of the sting is taken away when they arrive at their rental, which turns out to be a fatty house right on the beach in Malibu. I was wondering if I was in for an O.C.-type tale here—Summer Roberts tries out for the football team! (which I could actually picture, scarily enough). But the tone of this novel thus far doesn't fit the bitchy, salacious vibe of those kinds of stories (and as far as I know, Lucy wasn't wearing any designer clothing or toting Louis Vuitton luggage), and her apparent affluence gets virtually no mention after this.Lucy, an avid soccer player, tries out for the team at her new school at the urging of her teacher/soccer coach, who is young and hip and has her students call her by her first name, Martie. Edgy. Anyway, after enduring a week of tryouts and bonding with the soccer jockettes, Martie cuts Lucy's ass. What a bitch. But to soften the blow, Martie suggests that Lucy try out as kicker for the football team (the football team lost their first-string kicker during a recent game and are stuck with the next flunkie in line, some Justin Guarini lookalike named Benji).Lucy had actually met Benji in Martie's class, and he turns out to be a nice guy. Same goes for Lucy's crush and Designated Love Interest, Ryan. Other than being fond of 80s big hair bands and faux-hawks, he's pretty much about as exciting as watching paint dry. Oh, and he's also the football team's QB, which I'm sure none of us could've predicted.Lucy ends up making the team, kicking Benji back to his old role as the team flunkie (no pun intended). Poor old Benny earns the dubious honor of being the only boy Lucy is able to beat in a drill and in sprints. Man, what a guy. It's also apparent early on that he's taken a more than casual interest in her, but Lucy, like most YA heroines, is completely oblivious/too busy sniffing after Ryan.During the course of the novel Lucy struggles with the repercussions of her decision to join the football team—her father's disapproval, her teammates' cruelty, bitchy cheerleaders, the hit her budding friendship with Benji took seeing as she ousted him as kicker, and finding a way to make an unflattering jersey look cute. Not surprisingly, the climax of the novel revolves around the homecoming game and dance. Most of it's fairly predictable, although there was one little twist in the end that I actually wasn't expecting. Lucy was likeable enough, if a little bland, and the supporting players were all right, although they could've used more development. The villains of the piece were on the one-dimensional and stereotypical side (honestly... are there any fictional cheerleaders who aren't shallow bitches?). There were moments when the novel lapsed into sugar-coated afterschool-special territory, but we are talking about a former Dawson's Creek writer here, so it's to be expected. But all in all it was a fun, fluffy read, with some positive messages about perseverance and being yourself and all that good stuff.