Home Field Advantage

Wednesday Bks. Jun. 2022. 304p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250765840.
Gr 10 Up–Nothing can stand in Amber McCloud’s way as she works toward becoming cheer captain; nothing, that is, except for an intriguing new quarterback named Jack Walsh. And when Jack turns out to be short for Jaclyn, things are even more complicated for the queer but closeted Amber, who finds herself attracted to Jack. Jack is struggling to find acceptance with her new teammates, who seem determined to hate her for replacing their previous quarterback. Jack and Amber must work together to unify everyone while facing bigotry and defining their romantic interest in one another. This is a well-written story with solid pacing, believable characters, and relatable issues. Discussion of LGBTQIA+ identity is realistic and appropriately handled, as is how the characters deal with and confront homophobia and misogyny. The evolution of lifelong friendships is sensitively explored, as is the expression of identity in a repressed setting. Lead characters are white, with some secondary characters who are Black and Latinx. There is proliferate use of curse words throughout, including gender- and sexual-based name-calling; while the use of profanity is realistic for the teen experience, the constant usage distracts from the plot. Also present is appropriate representation of and discussion of teen experiences relating to sexuality, including abortion.
VERDICT A recommended purchase for all school or public libraries catering to older teens.

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