Thursday, December 19, 2019

Losing the Field - Review

Losing the Field (Field Party, # 4)

By: Abbi Glines

Publication: August 21st 2018 by Simon Pulse

336 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Source: Borrowed from the e-Library

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Goodreads description--Losing his dream, his ultimate plan, and his future- Nash Lee never expected to be facing a life without football. One wrong move and it had all changed. Going back to school for his senior year no longer appealed to him. He’d rather not leave his house. Walking back into Lawton High School, seeing pity in everyone’s eyes was just another reality in his nightmare.

Revenge wasn’t a pretty thing. Tallulah Liddell had found it was rather controlling. The way you looked at life changed completely when you clung to the ugly notion. But she’d done it anyway. From the last day of her junior year when Ryker Lee had made a fat joke about her and Nash laughed with him, she’d been driven by pain. It wasn’t like no one had made fun of her weight before. She was used to that. What had hurt so deeply was Nash’s laughter. He’d always been the one person to notice her, include her, not treat her differently. But that one moment had changed it all. From the time she walked out of the school building to the moment she returned for her senior year Tallulah had been determined to lose weight and finally be the size her peers considered acceptable.

What she wasn’t expecting on her return was to find a broken Nash Lee who no longer smiled, rarely spoke, and didn’t care about anything or anyone around him. He was just existing. But the pain in his eyes she understood all too well. He was alone. He no longer fit into the perfect package.

Losing the Field is one of those books that I think needs to be read by so many these days. Oh man, this is going to be one of those books that stick with me I think.

I've not read all of Abbi Glines books, but I have read a significant portion of them. I enjoy her work--some books more than others. Mostly I find that I generally rate her books as 3ish Stars. I get sucked in quickly. I devour them. But I almost always have some issues with one aspect or another. Sometimes the books are too descriptive for my preferences. Sometimes the plot is predictable. Sometimes her characters aren't exactly likable for me. But I really think Abbi Glines got it right with Losing the Field. And I might even go out on a limb to say that this might be my favorite of her books that I've read to date.

Tallulah was overweight. She was used to being picked on. She was used to being a loner. I won't say that she liked it that way, but she did what she could to blend into the background. Yet Nash was always nice to her. He saw her when others didn't. When others made fun of her, he took up for her. Yet one day Nash's cousin Ryker makes a fat joke about Tallulah and Nash laughs. Tallulah is majorly hurt, and she makes the changes she needs to in order to lose the weight. I really appreciated how Abbi Glines dealt with this entire aspect of the storyline. Tallulah knows that her weight loss was started for the wrong reasons. She knows she made the changes she did out of revenge and pain and hatred rather than doing something good for herself. She also struggles with combining who she was before the weight loss with who she is now. She doesn't always recognize herself in the mirror, but on the inside, she's pretty much the same girl. She does have a bit more confidence than she once did, and she's willing to stand up for herself.

I expected much more of the storyline to be focused on Tallulah's plan for revenge than it ended up being, and I think that was a good thing. Tallulah's message is that words matter. How you treat other people matters. Yet she's learned (and I very much appreciate this being included) that you can't give anyone else the power to define your worth. Our thoughts, our emotions are all under our control. We can react and feel a certain way, but it is within our power to change the thoughts or emotions we have at any given point. Don't give your power away to someone else. (Not included in the book, but my own personal thoughts: God is the only one who determines your worth. And He thought you important enough to send His Son from heaven to earth, to live a sinless life, and die at the hands of those He created so that He could conquer death and pay the ransom for your soul. Now tell me that you don't have any worth! No way.)

Nash has always loved football. It's been his dream to go on to college to play. Yet he gets injured, and he's been told he'll never play again. He's broken. This was his future that he'd dreamed of...lost. He's not in the best mental space. Certainly, Tallulah supported him through some tough moments--times when he needed to be there to support his former team and teammates. But I do wish that a little more of the book was focused on him working through the grief and pain in a bit more depth. He does make some forward progress in the way of finding a path to still be helpful and be part of the team. And maybe even a potential career path. But I think there was room for more in this area.

The pieces of the story that featured Coach Dace were impactful. I cringed. I gagged. I felt so bad for his wife. Yet I find that I don't have too much to say about it. It was worked into the story nicely. I wish Haegan had stayed just long enough to record Tallulah's reaction and then Nash had found or been given the recording as the catalyst for reconciling with her. Plus I feel like it would have worked Haegan into the story a bit better. As it was, he felt a little unessential to me. I mean his journey certainly affected Nash in a big way, but he just felt so sudden. He appeared suddenly. He left suddenly. That's probably my biggest complaint about the book.

I do feel like I need to mention it since Abbi Glines can sometimes exceed my descriptive preferences. There was essentially only one scene that even touched on this area, and it was really tame. I very much appreciate this although I'm sure some of her normal readers might not. This is one of her most YA books when it comes to this. (Which I almost expect means her next book will make up for it with double the scenes or something. HAHA!)

All in all, I was very impressed with Losing the Field. I read it in one day even staying up until almost midnight to finish it--which is something I simply do not normally do since having kids. I appreciated the toned down physical descriptions which felt totally appropriate for the story and the characters. The messages to the reader were powerful and needed for this generation of youths (and even some adults I'm sure). Yet I never felt like she was preaching. The messages only felt true to the characters and what they were experiencing. Losing the Field gets 4 Stars. I took a star off due to some confusion with Haegan's part of the story and wanting to delve a little deeper into Nash's emotional healing. Have you read Losing the Field? What did you think? Let me know!

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