If I’m going to be honest, I didn’t even want this novel to exist before I read it. I thought the first three novels in the Field Party series made up a perfect trilogy.
However, Abbi Glines surprised me once again with this one. From the prologue, I was laughing and able to relate with Tallulah, being a fat girl myself. I was feeling all right about Nash, not really remembering him from the previous books.
He seemed like an okay guy as Tallulah was describing him. He defended her throughout school and made sure that people around him didn’t make fun of her, and they remembered her name. Until he was too distracted by a potential lay that he accidentally laughed at a joke directed toward Tallulah’s weight.
I do have to say, though, that I give props to Tallulah for her weight loss. It was fueled by revenge, and I would have preferred to see a heavier girl succeed in a mainstream book. She had the personality and the potential to get through and survive high school, if only Nash hadn’t laughed at that stupid joke.
I struggle with the relationship between Tallulah and Nash. He says at one point that he was suddenly attracted to her, and he never would have been before she had lost the weight. While this may be a fact of life, as a heavier set girl, it is so damaging to self-esteem. I just imagined some teenager, in middle or high school, reading this book and thinking that they will never find someone who likes them unless they lose weight. The girls wouldn’t even all be overweight or obese. The reality of life now is that no girl is skinny enough, so media that propagates that women have to fit into a cookie cutter model to be considered “pretty enough” is damaging.
Now, to tackle the problematic relationship between Tallulah and Mr. Dace. I was cringing every single time Dace appeared in the book. At first, he seemed like a caring teacher figure, which is awesome, and we need more teachers like that. When it started to turn creepy, where Dace is paying more focused attention on Tallulah as a friend (love interest) rather than a student. Tallulah, not being used to any sort of attention, especially not attention like this, is oblivious to the potential dangers she is in.
Nash saw it early on, and it seemed like regular schoolboy jealousy. However, over the course of the story, Dace was making some questionable advancements on his student. With my desire to be a teacher, I really struggled seeing Mr. Dace have such a disregard for the rules put in place for his students’ (and his) protection. When Mr. Dace asked Tallulah to shut the door so they could talk in his room in private, I freaked out and almost threw my book across the room. That is unacceptable behavior for a teacher, which was something my roommate did not understand. I will not be getting into that conversation here.
Abbi Glines made up for Nash’s personality, somewhat. Reading about Nash’s injury made me cry. Having been an athlete myself, I know how quickly your body can give out on you. It is a split second before you are permanently not able to participate in the sport you love anymore. Knowing that Nash tore both his ACL and MCL is even more devastating. One of those injuries would be enough to take him out for the rest of high school, both definitely throw out his chances of getting back on the field in his lifetime. I cried so had when he was talking about how the injury incapacitated him. My sister tore both of her menisci at 14-years-old and has not played volleyball since. She has had four surgeries to try and repair the damage so she can walk normally again.
It was a revolutionary moment when Nash decided that he doesn’t need to play football to be involved in it. Especially after Mr. Dace is fired after he is discovered as the pedophile he is, and that he had done similar things to girls at previous schools he has worked at. I found one of his quotes so compelling that I put it as the quote in my living room for about a month. It also happens to be the quote where the title of the novel appears in the book.
Finally, the story line with the Youtuber dude who is so forgettable I don’t remember his name. I remember, spoiler alert, how he died. I remember when he came into the book because I totally thought the next book might be about him. The new kid coming into town. He is super mysterious, outspoken, the outsider. I personally didn’t love or hate him as a character, which is probably why I don’t remember him that well.
I think it was a good plot device to show Nash mourning both the loss of this friend and his relationship with Tallulah. One thing I love about Abbi Glines’ writing style is that she writes teenagers as teenagers. They aren’t too sophisticated, and they don’t make rational, well thought out decisions because they are mentally unable to. I like Abbi Glines’ ability to show the impulsiveness of teenagers in their element.