Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie, Sebastian Hughes, should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood best friend Emir Shah shows up to summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir’s trust. But to Sebastian’s surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town’s streets, and bonding on the weekends sparks more than just friendship between them.
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*I received the book in exchange for an honest review*
I am not even sure how to start this review. I requested this book completely accidentally, after seeing people I follow on Twitter being excited about it. And I am SO GLAD I did request it and that I was approved.
I’ve read quite a few YA books in the past and nowadays there are more and more queer YA books, and I have to catch up with most of them. But this one is currently one of my favourite. Okay, yes, I love steamy romances that are quite far from YA genre, but if they are written well, I don’t mind if the sex scenes are ‘hidden’. And teenagers, and younger, as well as older (*hi* 🙂 ) queer people deserve to read stories like this. When I was a teen, there were almost no queer stories for teens that I could find.
But back to the book. It’s about football (stubbornly called ‘soccer’ in here because…America? 🙂 ). And so one would expect less-than-queer-friendly environment. But it isn’t. At least not in the team. There are openly gay and openly bi characters, including one of the coaches who is married to a guy. And I loved that. The idea that people in the team are supportive and comfortable with other players being openly queer, and that it’s established from the beginning.
Sebastian (Bastian) is openly bi to his team but has never been with a guy, and had his girlfriend break up with him. I don’t think the reason is actually given, but they just weren’t meant to be together. Then, at the annual summer football camp, he meets his ex-best-friend Emir Shah.
This is not quite friends-to-enemies-to-lovers but more friends-to-strangers-to-lovers. They haven’t spoken in a long time and Sebastian is nervous and wants to reconnect, and Emir is seemingly not interested into making friends.
It’s a very sweet story, with football, some kissing, some rule breaking, and some relatively mild angst and drama. I just loved everything about the book, from Emir being Pakistani-British and practicing Muslim (and I am pretty sure I saw that the author used a sensitivity reader so this rep should be good 🙂 ). It has a lot of friendship in it and sport, and some angsting about what to do after high school.
I have to say once again that it is a very cool book that deserves all the attention it gets and I am so happy I had the chance to read it 🙂
(Note: Yes, I used football because I just can’t get myself to call it soccer 🙂 )