Sidelined by Kara Bietz

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Sidelined

Author: Kara Bietz

Book Series: Standalone

Diversity: Gay MC raised by grandma, Gay MC raised by single mom, M/m romance

Rating: 4/5

Recommended For…: young adult readers, contemporary, sports, sports romance, football, m/m romance

Genre: YA Contemporary Sports Romance

Publication Date: September 21, 2021

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 306

Recommended Age: 13+ (Religion, Romance, Teen pregnancy)

Explanation of CWs: Religion is central to the plot, but there’s no homophobia or religion used to further homophobia. No one really cares they’re gay. Romance is sweet and subtle. Just kisses and hugs. Teen pregnancy is used as a plot device to further the main characters romance and friendship.

Synopsis: Julian Jackson has a short to-do list for his senior year at Crenshaw County High School in Meridian, Texas: football, football, and more football. He knows he’s only got one chance to earn a college scholarship and make it out of his small town, and keeping his head down, his grades up, and his cleats on the field is that one chance. And then Elijah Vance walks back into his life, throwing all of his carefully-laid plans into a tailspin.
Elijah and Julian used to be best friends, maybe even on their way to something more than just friends. But three years ago, Elijah broke into the school to steal money from the coach’s office, and Julian was the one who turned him in. After that, Elijah and his family disappeared without a trace. And now he’s back, sitting at Julian’s grandmother’s kitchen table.
But time and distance haven’t erased all of their feelings, and Elijah knows that he finally has a chance to prove to Julian that he’s not the same person he was three years ago. But with secrets still growing between them and an uncertain future barreling towards them, it may be harder to lean on each other than they thought.

Review: For the most part I liked this book a lot. I loved the sports romance and how well connected the boys were. I liked the enemies to lovers aspect and how well developed all of the characters were. The world building was also well done.

However, there’s just some things in the book that didn’t land well for me. Teen pregnancy was used as a plot device to further the romance between the two boys and once that was done it was never really talked about again. The book had two tropes: miscommunication and enemies to lovers. Both were solved mid way through the book. The cover scene on the book isn’t even in the novel and, with the exception of one mention in the book, it nor the title connect with the story at all. The last chapter is a jump forward and it’s disjointing and not detailed that it’s a jump forward. And I just kinda felt like the issues Elijah had were resolved with Julian, but not with the town overall.

Verdict: Overall, good m/m romance but not enough plot behind the story.

One thought on “Sidelined by Kara Bietz

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