Title: Catching Jordan
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Release Date: December 1, 2011
Format/Page Count: Kindle Edition
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Synopsis: 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. (From GOODREADS)
Expectation: I have this expectation section here for honest preconceptions I have prior to reading. So...I will be honest here. I had mixed expectation. TWITTER gave me HUGE expectations, once again. I heard so many amazing things about this book in my twitter feed. BUT I hate football. It's one of the only things we try not to allow on our TV. With a 16 year-old son, I'm not doing very good with that rule. So I thought, 'how will I ever like this book? It's FOOTBALL.' So, my expectation was low regarding the possibility of reading something about my least favourite sport (next to Curling, which...come on, let's face it...is not a sport).
Market/Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary/Romance
"I once read that football was invented so people wouldn't notice summer ending."
So begins Catching Jordan. That is a great first line. It pulls you in. You don't have to be a fan of football to feel the absolute weight of that sentence. It's poignant. I loved it. I decided to put aside my prejudices against football once I read that opening sentence.
Jordan Woods is a great football player. As Captain and quarterback of the high school football team, Jordan has to be the best. But does being the best football player in Hundred Oaks High School--maybe even all of Tennessee--get you a free ride to the University of Alabama? Does the fact that your father is the great Donovan Woods, NFL superstar, help? I think it might, if you're a guy. But Jordan Woods is a girl. In a perfect world--in my world--that should not matter in the least. And in Catching Jordan, the reader begins to believe that maybe--just maybe--it won't matter. All is looking good for Jordan. The scouts are noticing her.
Jordan's attempt to make it to Alabama, though, is just one of the threads in this book. BUT it's an important one. As a YA story, I think it's great that the sexist world of sports is examined from this angle. Here, we have an exceptional athlete who deserves to follow the dream and make it to the pros...the top of her chosen sport's arena. The NFL. And, she deserves to get there via the university of her choice--ALABAMA. I won't go into the outcome of this thread, because I don't want to ruin it for the reader. I'll just say that through this thread alone, this was an exceptional read. Kenneally expertly handled this sensitive topic.
Catching Jordan is also about romance. The triangle is made of Jordan, her best friend for life Sam Henry and the new quarterback, Ty Green. Sam Henry was my favourite character. He's a great friend, a truly likeable person and a deeply emotional (without being sappy) person. I liked the relationship between him and Jordan. I always knew there was something going on, but I was never sure what it was. Kenneally wrote this friendship so well...the way Jordan would be concerned for Henry because she knew he was acting differently...the way they shared a bed when Henry slept over...the way her family 'adopted' Henry so completely...the plastic jewellery that Henry wore around his neck and the story behind it. There were just all these lovely things about the two of them.
And Ty. Well, I was a bit concerned about Ty. I liked it when Ty and Jordan became an item. I just could not tell if Ty was being controlling because of the recent trauma in his life, or because he was just a controlling person. It was a razor's edge, but in the end it was another well written twist in the story. See, Ty was likeable. He couldn't be likeable and despised at once. And who's going to like a totally controlling neanderthal? Especially when the one he is suddenly controlling is one of the strongest female leads of recent fictional history. I think Kenneally convinces the reader that Ty's recent upsets have made him overly-protective, not a neanderthal.
Jordan is adorable. A solidly written tomboy. We need more strong female characters in fiction, especially YA fiction. Girls need to know that it's okay to be just as strong OR stronger as boys. This is why I was a little annoyed with Donovan Woods at first. He was a solid wall of denial. His son was a star football player and he supported him and watched tapes with him. He was a great father supporting his son's dream. But he wouldn't go to Jordan's games, wouldn't talk to her about football, nothing. It was like he couldn't even SEE her. It was painful to read, at times. But well written and believable. The reader saw all the obstacles in Jordan's way, including her father. (Thank God for her mother--another well written character.)
When Alabama starts to show interest in Jordan, thankfully her father wakes up to her passion and determination. This thread of the story became truly rewarding. You will like the way Donovan steps up to the plate, so to speak (sorry for the baseball metaphor!).
So, with CATCHING JORDAN you have a strong female character trying to get into a male dominated world. You have a strong female character trying to balance respect for her position as team captain with the 'girlishness' of romance and love. You have a strong female character whose best friend for life is a male. AND you have a strong female character who is just discovering a love of writing while writing about all of these issues in a journal. All of these things in the hands of an amazing writer make for a page-turner you may even read in one sitting. I was driven to read this book, because even though it seemed like it might be predictable it absolutely was not. I found my emotions going up and down as the various threads unravelled. I LIKE that in a story--getting angry with characters, or upset with their choices, etc. I like getting that invested. I promise it will happen to you too. From the opening line (which was just all kinds of awesome) to the end, Catching Jordan is just a pure delight to read. You'll have to read it yourself, though, to find out if the ending is satisfying. It's hard to write about a book you love without giving everything away, so I'll leave it at this.
READ Catching Jordan. You may not fall in love with football if you didn't like it in the first place, but you'll fall in love with the characters in this football story!
Expectation more than exceeded. You don't have to like football to LOVE this story.