(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on August 16, 2016
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Sports, Young Adult
As king of baseball in the small town of Lewis Creek, Eric Perry can have any girl he wants and win every game he plays. But when a fight lands him in jail, he’s only got one more strike before his baseball career is over for good. His only chance for redemption? The girl next door, Bri Johnson.
Bri hasn’t talked to Eric in months—for starters, she’s been too busy dealing with her jerk of an ex-boyfriend, not to mention the fact that Eric’s been preoccupied trying to drink every keg in the country dry. But when he needs a way to stay on the team, she proposes a plan: if he helps her out with community service, he can stay on the team. At first it’s a nightmare—Eric and Bri stopped being friends years ago, surely that was for a good reason, right? But as volunteering turns to bonding over old memories of first kisses under the stars, they start to have trouble remembering what pushed them apart.
In a town as small as Lewis Creek, nothing stays secret for long and their friendship and romance might mean bad news. But in this final, tumultuous spring before graduation, Eric and Bri are about to realize that nobody’s perfect alone, but they might just be perfect together.
I was very much anticipating this book after how much I enjoyed book one of the Lewis Creek series, Play On.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
Eric Perry is known around Lewis Creek as the fun guy… He can have any girl he wants and it seems get away with just about anything as the starting pitcher of the baseball team. But with a reputation as a troublemaker and a fight landing him in jail, his coach bails him out one last time with a warning… any more trouble and you’re off the team.
Bri Johnson has lived next to Eric for years and at one time they were best friends… they even shared their first kiss with each other. But Bri’s boyfriend’s jealousy has forced her to push him away and despite living next to each other, they’ve grown apart. But when Bri breaks up with her controlling ex, Eric is there to support her and Bri realizes how much she’s missed him being in her life.
First let me tell you the things that didn’t so much work for me… because there were just a few.
The biggest one… I wanted more! That sounds incredibly demanding, but honestly, if you’re going to start the book with our hero hooking up in a truck with some random girl then please be prepared to give me more of him and our heroine together too. I felt like I waited so long for them to just finally kiss that I was anticipating when it would happen more than focusing on the story itself! I get it… they needed to rebuild their friendship and trust and get rid of that douche ex-boyfriend, but ugh I so wanted more.
Which leads me to the douchey ex-boyfriend. Holy crap you guys. This guy was downright scary and a bit ridiculous. That none of his friends kind of pulled him aside and said “WTF are you doing”, is crazy. (view spoiler) I just felt that some of his actions were a bit over the top and while could truly happen in real life, kind of took over much of the story… and I really was getting tired of him showing up as often as he did.
So I know I ragged a bit on the lack of kissing above, but that means that we get a lot of repairing of the friendship these two once had, which was really well done. Get prepared for some sweet and touching moments and reminiscing! I really liked Eric and Bri together and seeing them rebuild while doing community service really provided the perfect setting. Another plot point I liked… Bri’s pretty smart and knows what plans she has for her future, but Eric’s a bit lost in that regard. His focus right now is baseball, and he can’t see past that to figure out what he’s going to do after graduation. I kind of love how he finally figures it all out and Smith does a really good job of showing how stressful senior year can be for those who really aren’t sure where they’re going!
Can we also talk about Eric’s family? I absolutely love them and I really thought their part in this story was wonderfully done. I love that he had these incredible people behind him who were determined to help him succeed, even if it meant punishing him to make him realize that he’s done something wrong and holding him up when the small town of Lewis Creek were ready to tear him down.
Overall, a really wonderful story, and a good addition to the Lewis Creek Series. I’m kind of hoping we’ll get some more from this small town.
Fans of the ‘friends to more’ trope are definitely going to love this as well as those who love a good contemporary sports YA – this one has baseball and soccer! With strong characters and a story that will keep you turning pages, make sure you grab this one on release day!
Thank you to the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.