Monday, January 09, 2012

Review: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

LOL, I'm really trying to delay the inevitable ^_^; I need to write my Monthly Reads posts for November and December and realized that I've barely reviewed any books I've read in those two months. I've read 19 books in November and 23 in December... Can you imagine writing mini-reviews for that many books? So here I am, writing full reviews instead! The lesser of two evils right? LOL.

Catching Jordan is another book I intended to review back in December, but never got to it. Glad I finally did :) Enjoy!

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
published by Sourcebooks Fire in December 2011
She can do a mean end-zone celebration boogie, but slow-dance at prom?

What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though - she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team... and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.
Genre: YA, contemporary, sports
Series: N/A

The Story: Jordan Woods comes from a family which lives and breathes american football: her father, Donovan Woods, is a star quarterback in the NFL, her brother is starting to make himself a name in college football and Jordan is the quarterback of her high school team and also captain. Jordan's dream is to play football at the collegiate level and not just for any team - for the best of the best, University of Alabama. And despite her father's lack of support, Jordan is determined to make her dream comes true.

However, things get complicated when Tyler Green shows up. Due to familial reasons, he's had to move from Texas to Tennessee and hopes to become part of the team. He isn't asking to start, simply to be allowed to play... but the new guy has serious skills and might even be better than Jordan. Of course, Jordan is feeling slightly threatened... but the real problem is her attraction to Tyler. For the first time in her life, Jordan has a crush on a guy and doesn't really know what to do. She's always been one of the guys and not on the other side. But once Jordan's relationship with Tyler takes off, it opens another can of worms and Jordan is faced with the realization that her best friend and wide receiver has had feelings for her for a long time.

My Opinion: I have to thank Rowena for bringing Catching Jordan to my attention over on The Book Scoop :) As soon as I read the blurb, I was intrigued by this book. I really liked the idea of a girl playing quarterback for her high school team in a sport that is so predominantly male... and in that respect, Ms Kenneally definitively pulled it off :)

I really enjoyed Catching Jordan because it really was about Jordan being a girl and playing football. It wasn't just a background idea for the book and then, the story focused on high school drama and love relationships. Instead, Ms Kenneally really made football part of the story and used it almost as a character. Not only was it a good decision, but she did a great job at it and it definitively set the tone and created a refreshing atmosphere for Catching Jordan.

Aside from the football aspect, the strength of this book in my opinion was the characters and their interactions. I have to say, Jordan and her teammates JJ, Carter and Henry remind me of the 3 musketeers. I loved the friendship and camaraderie,  the loyalty between them. That was definitively my favorite part of the book. I liked that the guys considered Jordan as one of them and they hung out playing videogames and eating. It was great to see that she could trust them on the field and outside of it, confiding and asking advice even though they were guys and she was a girl. You could see that for JJ, Carter and Henry, Jordan was their captain and their friend and more importantly, they believed in her and her dreams. Sure, they're not the most sensitive people and at time, they were gross LOL. Still, they were great friends and Jordan was really lucky to have them :)

I also really liked the Woods family dynamics. I thought it was really interesting and refreshing. I loved that Jordan and her brother had a close relationship and that he also supported her dreams, believed in her. I thought it was really sweet. I loved that the mother tried to make Jordan more girly, but at the same time, she respected who Jordan was. She didn't try to change Jordan and even encourage her in her dreams and played buffer between father and daughter. As for Jordan's father, it sucked that he didn't show more support for Jordan playing football, but at the same time, it didn't mean he didn't love his daughter or want to spend time with her. I thought his feelings about Jordan playing football made sense. He's a professional NFL player, he understands the world better... and while Jordan is very talented and dedicated... how far can she really go? How far will they let her go? As a father, Donovan Woods wanted the best for her and he just didn't think that collegiate football was what was best for her... and in a way, he wasn't totally wrong. I did like that at the end, their relationship was mended once he finally realized how important football was for Jordan and helped her out.

If Catching Jordan was such a good book, I think it was in great part due to the heroine, Jordan Woods. Not only Ms Kenneally did a great job with Jordan's characterization, but she also kept it real. Her anger against her father not supporting her in football, but always there for her brother. The confusion that her attraction to Tyler brought up. For example the desire to dress more nicely, more femininely... but at the same time, feeling uncomfortable. The fear what a relationship with someone on the team could do, the changes it would bring, etc. Ms Kenneally created a well-developed and layered heroine, one that was interesting and refreshing in my opinion.

Unfortunately, there was a fumble for me in Catching Jordan and that was the romance. First, I'm not a fan of love triangle, but aside from that fact, I think the romance was simply not well executed. Jordan's crush on Tyler was okay... but once they became a couple, it seemed a lot of the relationship was off-pages and therefore it seemed rushed and not well-developed. For example, their first time seemed to come out of no where ^_^; Also, my impressions of him are really contradictory and I don't know what to think of him. However, what bothered me most was the romance between Jordan and her best friend, Sam Henry. I liked Henry better so I was rooting for them to be together... But there were a few things that I didn't get. For example, once Henry declares himself, Jordan realizes she has feelings for him as well. In that case, why did she stay with Tyler? Even if Henry had back-pedaled, I thought that once she realized she wasn't in love with Tyler, she should have broken things off. It wasn't fair for Tyler. Also, given Jordan's personality, I really thought she should have gone after Henry. When it came to love, Jordan was too wishy-washy and passive. Also, Henry was stupid to back-pedal and I disliked his disappearing act and how it affected Jordan and the story overall :( I understand that he was afraid things would change, but as soon as he declared himself, it was too late, things had already changed. Luckily, everything worked out at the end ^_^;

My Grade: B. Ms Kenneally delivered a very solid debut novel. I truly enjoyed Catching Jordan and found it quite refreshing :) I'm looking forward to her next releases!