Genna Pierce’s life is finally falling into place. Perfect grades? Check. Her choice of scholarship now that basketball recruiters are sniffing around? Check. The hot guy she’s crushed on since freshman year finally noticing her? Looks like it’ll be a check any day now.
But when a freak accident sidelines Genna, her perfect life starts breaking apart into a million less-than-perfect pieces. No more scholarships. Spiraling grades. And she’s sure Jake Butler, her forever crush, will have zero interest in someone as broken as she is.
Except Jake does want to stick around. He may have started falling for the girl Genna used to be, but he’ll wait for the girl she could become—if she can find enough left in her to pick up the pieces and start again.
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By Kendra C. Highley, Heather Howland, Sue Winegardner
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Kendra C. Highley
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My brain's going supernova, brought on by squeaking Reeboks, bright lights, and yelling people. Nine seconds ... it's all I have left to make something happen, both for my teammates and for me. If I screw up, we fall an inch — a chasm, a universe — short of the championship.
My life's work, boiled down to nine stinking seconds.
The ref blows his whistle and the world snaps into chaotic focus. Taylor inbounds the ball. Her pass comes at me hard. I grab the ball and use its momentum to turn. The pushy little forward who's been harshing me the whole game tries to block, all elbows and knees and sweaty ponytail. I cut right, out of her path.
I jump. The ball rolls from my fingertips. I hold my breath as it tips over the rim and slides through the net a blink before the buzzer. Screams erupt, so loud they shake the walls of the field house.
Relief courses through my veins and I drop to my knees, exhausted, while the rest of the team piles on top of me. I accept the squashing with as much dignity as I can, given that we all smell like used gym socks. After mauling me, the team moves on to attack the next victim — likely Coach. I'm slow getting to my feet, though. My joy will come later, once my heart stops pounding in my ears.
"The Lady Panthers win it, beating Tecumseh sixty-eight to sixty-seven!" Our team's student-trainer — and announcer ... and anything else we ask him to be — is so excited his voice cracks over the PA. "Winning shot to Imogen Pierce! Weatherford North is state tournament bound!"
I cringe. Everyone knows how much I hate it when they call me by my full name. I'm thinking about making him swallow his microphone when a large shadow covers mine.
"Genna, you rock star!" Rowan spins me around and gives me a hug before doing a victory pirouette. At six-two, you wouldn't think my best friend would be that graceful, but she has the regal build, athletic agility, and predatory ruthlessness of an Amazon. Add in her mocha skin and high cheekbones, and she could model, too. So unfair.
Okay, yes, I'm a little jealous. I'm only five-eleven but wouldn't be caught dead dancing in public and I definitely don't have the cheekbones. But I shoot better outside, so there's that.
I squeeze her hand, still breathing hard. We made state. I should be screaming and smothering Coach Marczek in a group hug with the rest of the team. Instead, I keep thinking about how Tecumseh's point guard stole the ball from me to get ahead in the third quarter. I never can seem to protect my left side, something my mother will be sure to point out.
Rowan nudges me with her hip. "Earth to Genna. You in there?"
"Sorry." I force a smile. "Good game."
"Let's see ... we won, I'm going home with a few bruises, that cow from Tecumseh is going home with more. Yeah, good game." She pushes me in the direction of the bench, where Coach is trying to avoid being showered in Gatorade. "You going out with us for a burger? Charity's going to meet me at Braum's."
"You don't need a third wheel on a date," I say. "Besides, do you think my mother would let me go out on a school night?"
Her smile is crafty. "Jake Butler's going to be there. He asked if you were coming."
Jake Butler. A flush starts at my cheeks, flooding my face and neck, until I'm hot all over. I've had a crush on him since ... um, forever, and he asked if I was coming? Since when did he know I was alive? I mean, there was that one time when I bumped into him — hard — after lunch junior year. I can still almost feel his body pressed up against mine, sending pinpricks of something delicious up and down my spine ...
"Well ... maybe I can go for a while. Can you give me a ride?"
Rowan gives me a sidelong glance. "Only if you promise to say more than two words to Jake."
I open my mouth then close it. "I've said more than two words to him."
"Not at one time."
"I have too! I congratulated him after his last football game."
On November 5. At 9:42 p.m.
She rolls her eyes. "Girl, I've been watching you stare at him with your mouth open for four years, and it's getting old. Maybe if you show a little confidence, he'll ask you out."
I snort. "Like that's gonna happen. He prefers girls with big ... pom-poms."
Which certainly isn't me. My mom endowed me with a killer instinct, a near-perfect hook shot, and lots of baggage, but didn't pass on the better parts — which is how I ended up tall and all angles like my dad.
"One of these days you're gonna realize you are not wallpaper. Guys notice you all the time," Rowan says. "Besides, Jake's already run through most of the cheerleaders."
I follow her to the bench to hug Coach. She grins down at me — she's even taller than Rowan so I have to crane my neck to see her face. "Excellent game. You fought hard."
I flush at the praise. "Thanks."
She picks up her clipboard. "Make sure you get some rest this weekend. I'm calling practice after school every day until state, starting tomorrow."
I hold in my groan of exhaustion, because right after a game, all I can think about is a hot shower. I start for the locker room, but a flash of emerald-colored wool catches my eye.
She's wearing a cashmere sweater and black pants, the only parent dressed as though a high school basketball game is a business dinner.
"Over here, honey," she calls, waving at me.
I trudge to the stands. Mom leans over the railing as if to tell me I'm moving too slow. Her hair, done up in a French twist, is still perfect, despite the humidity of the field house. Yet her smile is tight and I can see all my failures reflected in her eyes. So that's how this conversation is going to go.
My father hovers behind her. The gym lights gleam off the lenses of his wire-rimmed glasses, and his smile is warm. "Good game, sweetheart."
I smile back in spite of myself.
"The scouts from Lincoln seemed impressed, despite the mistakes in the third quarter." Mom sighs, and my smile falls right off my face. "All those summer training camps, and you're still weak on the left. I wish I had some slack in my schedule. I could put you through some drills."
Six years ago, the idea of drills with Mom would set my heart racing and I'd count the minutes until it was time to practice. Four years ago, when I surpassed her in skill, she suddenly stopped playing with me, saying she was too busy. While she poured her heart into her new law practice, I had to learn by myself. Losing her hurt ... and that pissed me off.
"Anyway," she's saying, "it sounds like Nebraska is definitely interested. And Oklahoma State called while you were warming up, asking when they could bring you back to Stillwater for a visit. It looks like we'll get our pick."
Our pick. Never any mention of what I'm thinking — which is Texas A&M, mainly because it's really far from home — but whatever. Bringing up what I want will give her an opening to argue and I'm way too tired to deal with her. "I want to meet a few friends for milkshakes." I hurry to add, "If that's okay."
"On a school night?" Mom asks, arching a thin eyebrow. She pays a fortune to have them shaped by a tiny Asian lady. It takes a lot of effort to look flawless, and there are days when I want to ask her what the Great Oz looks like behind the curtain, but I know better.
Finally, she glances at her watch. "Home by ten."
The clock in the field house reads eight fifteen. By the time I shower, I'll have a whole forty-five minutes to hang out with everyone. Nice.
I wave and head for the locker room before she can change her mind. All the postgame adrenaline I had burns away and my muscles start to ache. My arm's already bruising where Tecumseh's forward pinched me every time I got too close to the goal. It'll be hard to get out of bed in the morning after all the bumps I took, too. On days like that, Advil is my sure and steady friend.
The main locker room is empty when I go inside and take a seat on the bench. Everyone else is in the showers, or already gone, and the knot at the base of my spine finally starts to unwind now that I'm safely here. The smell of sweat and disinfectant is like home ... disgusting, but true. This is where I live. Okay, so maybe it's kind of a shithole, what with the chipped tile, dented lockers, and showers that never get hot enough. Still, it's my shithole.
I bend to untie my sneakers, wincing at the strains in my shoulders. Pain is always the sign of a good, hard game, and that's how it sinks in, how I know the dream I've carried for four long years is really happening.
We're going to state. And we're going to win.CHAPTER 2
The parking lot is crowded by the time Rowan and I get to Braum's. Jake's truck is parked near the front entrance.
My palms grow slick with sweat. "You know, on second thought, I'm kind of wiped. Want to hit the drive-thru?"
Rowan gets out of her car, a boring gold Honda she named "The Tank" to give it some swagger, without answering. She walks around and opens my door. "Don't be a chicken."
I clamber out, taking a second to smooth my T-shirt. "I'm not a chicken." When she raises her eyebrows, I add, "Most of the time."
She heads up the sidewalk, leaving me behind. I'll look stupid if I stay out here loitering next to The Tank all alone, so I hurry to catch up.
A cheer goes up as soon as Rowan clears the door. She swaggers inside like she slayed a dragon on her way to Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy Store. Her girlfriend, Charity, comes running and throws her arms around Rowan's neck, reaching way up on her tiptoes to do it.
Reminded I'm a tagalong, I start for the counter to buy a Diet Coke, but abruptly lose my train of thought. Jake's standing not ten feet away, smiling at me. My heart takes a hard bounce in my chest and my knees turn into lo mein noodles. When he catches me looking, he heads my way and I forget where I was going, totally sucked in by the quarterback with broad shoulders, lean muscles, and perfectly messy light-brown hair.
Oh, such a cliché, but so pretty, he makes my eyes hurt.
"Hey, Genna. Great game."
Jake's chocolate-brown eyes hold me captive. My brain has gone blue-screen-of- death-imminent-hardware-failure, yet somehow I stammer, "Y-you were th-there?"
"Yeah. The way you faked out that point guard at the last second was sweet." His smile is easy. He either doesn't notice I'm coming unglued, or he does ... and he likes it.
"Thanks." I manage a small smile. I hope it doesn't look like something you'd see on a serial killer. "She was pretty feisty."
Feisty? Feisty? Oh, Lord, shoot me now — I sound like my dead granny. My dad's an English Lit professor who played "define that word" with me in elementary school, and that's what I come up with?
He laughs, though. "She looked like she wanted to rip you apart after that shot went in. I laughed my ass off."
That makes me giggle. Then I try to stop, because giggling can't be attractive on girls nearly six feet tall, and I end up making a sound like a strangling goose. "It was nice revenge for how she and the forward kept pinching my arms whenever I'd go in for a rebound."
"They did?" He grabs my left arm and holds it out. I concentrate on keeping my knees from shaking while he examines the little bruises purpling my triceps. "I had no idea girls' sports were this rough."
"Most guys don't," I say. He looks embarrassed, so I shake my head. "I didn't mean that in a bad way. It's just that our type of rough is more sneaky than a linebacker knocking you into next Tuesday. To be honest, I'd prefer that sometimes."
"Having a guy knock you flat on your back?"
He gives me a wicked smile, and I turn nine shades of pink. "Well, um, it'd depend on the circumstances, I guess."
"I'm joking. But you're cute when you blush," he says. "Besides, getting concussed by a defensive lineman isn't as fun as it sounds."
I think back to a football game our junior year. "I forgot about that." But now that I remember, I get that sick feeling in my stomach, seeing him sprawled out on the field, while coaches brace his neck and remove his helmet. That night had been horrifying. "I'm glad you were okay."
"Yeah. My mom wanted me to quit playing, but the doctor said I was fine, and my dad talked her out of it." He shrugs. "I didn't want to stop just because of a bump on my head."
I nod. I couldn't imagine being told I couldn't play anymore. "I wouldn't have, either."
"Well, Mom never played a sport, so she doesn't really get it."
"My mom gets it all too well," I mutter without thinking. Jake frowns, so I hurry to say, "She played. She ... likes to critique my games."
"Ah. My dad played, too. He doesn't give me crap about it, though."
"Lucky you." I stare at my feet a second, wondering how we ended up here. "So, I didn't know you came to our games."
"It was the playoffs." He gives me a little nudge with his hip. "Everybody was there. Your team's the first one to make it this far in seven years. I wouldn't miss that."
A flush of pride warms my face. "Um, thanks. I'm really excited, but it's going to be hard to keep from stressing about the tourney for the next week."
"Well, maybe I can help with that," Jake drawls. "What are you doing tomorrow night?"
Wait ... is he asking me out? "Um, nothing that I know of."
"Want to go to a movie with me?"
It takes a few seconds for my brain to register what he said. Electricity travels the length of my body, but I manage to answer. "Um, yeah ... I mean, yes. I'd love to."
He brushes my arm with his fingers. "See you tomorrow, then."
With that, he disappears into the crowd and I drop into a pink vinyl booth feeling like a rag doll.
How did this even happen? I always thought our "relationship" was a one-way street: Genna drools over Jake, Jake acknowledges Genna exists. The end. I'm not tiny, cute, or popular. I play basketball, I do well in school, and I intimidate most guys. Except ... it's weird. We seemed to have more in common than I thought. I hadn't ever dated another athlete, and I'm starting to wonder why. Maybe I was the intimidated one. No, the last thing I need to do is question a good thing. I should focus on the fact that it took four years of pining, hours of shameless staring, and the alignment of every planet in the solar system, but it finally happened.
Jake Butler asked me out.
* * *
I'm still woozy when Rowan arrives, milkshake in hand, to grill me about the conversation.
"So?" She waggles her eyebrows. "How'd it go?"
"We're going to a movie tomorrow."
"Actual movie, or" — she makes air quotes — "a 'movie,' as in something playing in the back of his truck?"
"Either, both, I don't really care." I'm trying to act casual, but it's so hard. I want to skip around tossing daisies at people or something.
"Just be safe," she says. "He's had more than his share of hookups."
That would be the first thing Ro got out of the whole encounter. She's right, though. If a quarter of the rumors about Jake are true ... well, he's legend. Another reason to wonder why he asked me out.
"I'll be careful." I jump to my feet, not ready to ask myself the harder question. "Be right back ... I need a drink."
The guy working the counter tries to talk me into my usual — a chocolate-chip shake — but I order a Diet Coke instead. At this stage of the season, I can't afford the sugar and I've worked too hard to blow it now. Soda in hand, I start back to my table, only to find myself surrounded by dumbasses.
"Look who's here, guys. It's the savior of Weatherford North." Ethan Prenderville, flanked by half the offensive line, puts his hand over his heart and bends his big, square body into a mocking bow.
I steel myself, hoping this is a hit-and-run visit. "What's up, guys?" "Oh, we just want to bask in your glory a moment," Ethan says.
I should walk away, but Ethan's been on me since I beat him out for student-athlete of the year in sixth freaking grade. It doesn't help that Mom helped some ranchers win two million dollars from his dad's oil and gas business in a lawsuit four years ago, either.
Excerpted from Sidelined by Kendra C. Highley, Heather Howland, Sue Winegardner. Copyright © 2013 Kendra C. Highley. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What a rollercoaster ride this amazing story is! Just imagine you’re eighteen, doing great with your academic work, you’re a star basket ball player, likely to get a full scholarship through your talent, your team is heading for the finals with a good chance of winning, the boy you’ve crushed on for years asks you out and then everything in your life totally disintegrates… You get severely injured in a match, putting an end to your basketball dreams, your life is filled with pain, all scholarship offers are rescinded and that’s just the start of things going wrong for you . . . This is no sweet romance, it is filled with pain, heartbreak and turmoil. It explores in an emotive manner the problems associated with parental break ups, addiction to pain meds, first love, the loss of self worth and what happens when your dreams and aspirations get totally derailed. Nothing is sugar coated, it is raw and poignant. It helps explore so many issues in a meaningful manner with great characters that it could almost be compulsory reading for older teens, demonstrating so dramatically the impact of broken dreams, how easy addiction can happen to anyone and how hard it is to get out of the downward spiral. Having said all that, it is also a story of growth, showing even after dreams have been shattered a different but still very positive future is possible, especially with the support of true friends and a loving parent. Whatever the future looks like at the moment you don’t know what is round the next corner and need to keep on going, keep positive and striving to achieve your own HEA. This isn’t just a story for teens, it is an emotive story I recommend to everyone - teen, adult, parents and grandparents, anyone - a superb exploration of dark times and inspirational for the future. Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley, too, for letting me read an ARC of this book in exchange for this, an honest review.
Wow! I absolutely loved reading Sidelined by Kendra C. Highley! I can see my library students enjoying this story also. Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the arc and the opportunity to read and review this amazing book! It has everything a realistic fiction reader could want: sports, romance, struggles, inspiration and overcoming extreme obstacles. Genna is a basketball player with sports scholarships on the horizon. A supportive father and a controlling, pushy mother make up her family. Jake Butler and Genna have been secretly crushing on each other and now began to have a relationship. Genna injures her leg during a playoff game and then her life seems to spiral out of her control. Highly recommended!
Genna is a star basketball player whose team is on their way to the State Championship. Most everything is going right in her life; she has college offers to fantastic schools, she starts dating the guy she's crushed on since Freshman year, Jake, and she's on the top of her game. Then she has a career-ending injury. She finds that her dream is over and there never was a Plan B. On top of all of that, her parents are fighting all of the time and when she really needs her mother, work seems more important. All of this physical and emotional pain leads to her abusing her pain medication and going to extraordinary measures in order to make sure she's never without her pills. I loved so many things about this story. It highlighted what so many injured student athletes experience. At no point did her parents or any of her doctors think to assess her emotional wellbeing after being told that her plan can no longer happen or when her home life implodes. Genna had amazing support from her friends, Jake, and her father. Once she starts therapy, she has the best therapist she could have possibly had. He never took her answers at face value and calls her out when she's evasive. Jake was amazing. He's invested in Genna whether she plays basketball or not. He has quite the reputation around school but took the time to change his ways before pursuing a relationship with her. He reached out for help when he saw Genna spiraling out of control. It was his interference that kept Genna's path from becoming worse than it could have been. This was my first book by this author but it certainly won't be the last. I hope that some of the side characters get their own story! *I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Rockstars Blog Tours and Entangled publishing.) For 18-year-old Imogen (Genna), basketball is everything. She’s destined for a scholarship to college to play basketball, and things are even looking up with Jake, a boy who she has had a major crush on forever. When Genna is injured during a basketball game, all her plans are dust when she is told that she will never be able to play professional basketball again. With Vicodin the only thing keeping her going, and her mother more and more absent from her life, Genna feels like her life is on a downward spiral. Can Genna learn to cope without the Vicodin? Should she still be with Jake? What is her mother up to? And what will happen to Genna now she can’t play basketball? This was a good YA contemporary story, and I liked how normal Genna was. Genna was a great character. She was just so normal! Totally the sort of person that you would be friends with and go to school with, and what happened to her just sucked. I really felt for her when she realised that her career was over, and the way that she became hooked on Vicodin, without even realising it showed how dangerously addictive narcotics are, even to your average everyday person. I liked the storyline in this book, and I liked how well the book flowed. I felt really sorry for what Genna was going through, and at the same time understood her addiction and how she ended up where she was. I did see some parts of the storyline coming, but this didn’t really spoil the story at all. I thought the drug addiction part of the story was done really well, especially as Genna felt like a normal person, and didn’t come across the way you would expect an addict to come across. I also liked how the legal problems of Genna’s addiction were also dealt with. I liked the romance between Genna and Jake, although that wasn’t really the main focus of the story. I thought that there could possibly have been a bit more romance, but the story was fine as it was really. If you’re looking for a romance novel, this isn’t really it though, this focuses more on Genna’s problem with drugs. I liked the ending of the book, and I liked how things worked out okay for Genna in the end, and we got as much of a happy ending as we could in the situation! Overall; a good YA contemporary story dealing with addiction. 8 out of 10.
The thing I've worked hardest for is gone. My life, my reason for existing at all.. over." Things are going well in Genna Pierce's life. She's a star basketball player who is about to lead her team to the state championships. College scouts are making offers. She's started dating the guy she's had a crush on since 9th grade. Life is great. That is, until things go wrong in a split second on the basketball court and she suffers a career-ending injury. Now, instead of facing the exciting prospects of her future, like selecting a college and getting out of her small town, she's undergoing multiple surgeries, taking physical therapy to learn to walk again and numbing the pain - physical and mental - with Vicodin. "I let my dream fall to the floor. I watch as it crashes and breaks, and grief rolls over me in tsunami-sized waves, threatening to pull me to the bottom of the sea." I really liked Genna and my heart broke for her when she realized the extent of her injury and what it meant she was giving up. I can't imagine what it must be like to see your future go down in flames so spectacularly through no real fault of your own. It was gut-wrenching. Basketball was who she was. It's what her mother drilled into her from an early age. She's not only lost her future, she's lost her identity. As the physical and mental pain get to be more than she can bear, she depends more and more on Vicodin – going to some crazy lengths to acquire it. She pushes away the people closest to her – Jake and Rowan – as she loses herself in the addiction. Deep down she knows she has a problem, but she's in over her head. "I don't want to see Jake. It's not because I'm pouting – I'm embarrassed. He saw me at the worst moment of my life, and now any mystique I had is gone. I'm no longer the badass basketball player who isn't scared of anything. What if the new, lesser me isn't enough for him? And why would I be?" Genna and Jake had a great thing starting before her injury. They had been friends for years, but she had been crushing on him hardcore. He's a star football player and has a quite the reputation with girls. They've only gone out a couple of times, but their feelings for each other are strong. I think the uncertainty with the newness of the relationship played a lot into her feelings of inadequacy when it came to him. She really likes him. She can't bear the thought of losing something else right now, but she pushes him away. "You just can't help yourself, can you? You're determined to be catnip to girls." "So you're saying that because of your drug problem, you're not good enough for me? The same guy who did two girls at the prom last year because the opportunity presented itself? The same guy who could've hooked up with a third, except she changed her mind? You're not good enough for that guy?" I'm not even going to lie – I loved Jake. He was swoon-worthy. I felt terrible for the way Genna was pushing him away. While I understood why she was doing it, it was obvious all he wanted was to be there for her, to help her. Comments at the beginning of the book alluded to Jake's past with regards to girls and it was hard to imagine that giving how attentive he was to Genna and how he genuinely seemed to care for her. He changed for her and can't understand why she won't let him be there for her. I thought Genna and Jake made a wonderful couple. They both had issues. Despite the newness of their relationship, it was obvious they both cared for each other deeply. They weren't perfect, but they were perfect together. I desperately wanted them to work through their issues. "I hurt. The pills help." Dad understands what I mean. "Then we need to find something else that helps more." I had a love-hate relationship with Genna's parents in this novel. I don't like her mother. She's overbearing and pushy. She's forcing her dream on Genna – which I guess was mostly ok because it was Genna's dream as well. What wasn't ok was how she dealt with the injury and the resulting end of that dream. She was despicable. I understand it had to be difficult to watch your child go through something like that – especially since it was a dream they shared – but she was a poor parent. Genna's dad needed to grow a backbone a little sooner in the story. But, he was the only parent who was there for Genna. He was supportive and wonderful, what a parent should be. "I spent months trying to be good enough for you. This... problem isn't taking us down." Those novel handled a lot of difficult issues in a graceful way. It had a positive, hopeful message without being cliché. I had hopes for how things would turn out in the end, but I didn't know for sure what was going to happen until it did. Despite the depth of the issues it dealt with, this was an easy book to read. I breezed through it in a couple hours. I wanted to see Genna piece herself back together, fight her addiction and move on with her life, regardless of how impossible doing so seemed in the days and weeks immediately following her injury. There's no cliffhanger here and the storyline wrapped up nicely at the end. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary young adult lit with depth. ***I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. ***
Great story with a really good message Genna Pierce's whole life has been about basketball. Her dreams, her future, and her desires all revolved around playing the game. Now in her senior year in high school, things seem to be going great for Genna. The team is on the way to the State Championship, Jake, the guy she has crushed on what seems like forever is now dating her, and she has several colleges that want her to play for them. Everything changes the night of the tournament when Genna is severely injured resulting surgery on her leg to repair some major damage, followed by months of therapy, and having to face the fact that she won't be able to play basketball again. All of this sets Genna on a downward spiral. She's depressed, doesn't want to see her friends, she's embarrassed, her mom is driving her nuts, and the pain is more than she can bear. The only thing that helps numb the pain in her body and in her heart, is her new best friend - Vicodin, only it isn't really her friend at all. Sidelined is a really great story with a fantastic message. Genna, the main character, is popular, a leader, and has everything going for her. After the accident, her life changes so much she can hardly come to terms with her life as it is now or her future. Her parents are fighting and there are things going on there that she isn't aware of, which really blindside her. Therapy is kicking her butt, and she gradually begins taking more and more pills until she is out of control, which leads to lying, doing things she would never have considered before, and pushing away everyone who loves her. Jake is great, I just loved him. He has a reputation as a player, but now that he's with Genna, he only has eyes for her, and he isn't afraid to call her out on things. Genna's dad was also wonderful. I wanted to slap her mom a few times because of the way she acted and the things she did. She was a heifer, but did start getting better by the end of the story. Then there was her best friend Rowen was also a really likable character. I loved the message in Sidelined. This hits a personal note with me because I had a family member in a similar situation. He was burned severely, wound up on pain pills and addicted to them, almost lost everything trying to get them, and finally wound up in rehab because of the addiction. Kendra Highley has done a wonderful job in writing a novel that is not only a great story, but is also one that addresses a very serious and very prevalent problem that is escalating out of control in society today, with no respect for age group, gender, or social status. Sidelined is a wonderful story chronicling Genna's journey from the top of the mountain until she hits rock bottom, and everything in between. Genna falls down a lot, she gets back up again, and falls some more, until she eventually finds her place on the mountain once again. I really enjoyed Sidelined and appreciated the way Kendra Highley didn't sugarcoat the effects of addiction, nor the pain or challenges faced in the recovery process. The ending of the story was really great also, and yes, there is that romance that we all crave and love. Sidelined is really a great story and is something I would recommend and consider appropriate for younger teens to adults.
Sidelined starts with a relatively adjusted Genna doing well at her passion, basketball. Although she gets pressure from her mom, because Genna is basically living out her childhood dream that she didn't have the talent like Genna does. I like this glimpse before we know things will go downhill fast. I see her doing what she loves, feeling the pressure, and the giddiness of a new relationship, her long time crush. I say, and this is probably just an ARC issue, but it was like they searched the book for "fi" and "fl" and deleted it. It drove me absolutely insane, and I almost didn't finish, I mean nish, because of it. Anyways. Family was an important part of this story which I appreciated. Genna at first felt completely abandonded and ignored except for pressure and feeling like they were making decisions for her, or steering her life without her input. But as the story goes on, of course there are some rough times, but I loved watching these relationships bloom. I especially enjoyed the closeness and understanding between Genna and her dad. It is even more rare to have an involved parent, but for it to be the dad, that really was awesome to me. Her best friend was awesome, involved and intuitive. She had such and understanding and nurturing personality and she made me happy to read about Rowan. Jake was the love interest in this one, and while their relationship starts at the beginning of the book, Genna had been friends but crushing on him for a while, so it is not seeing him and all the sudden in so deep. Jake really shows to me a changed personality because he was a player basically but then he decided that he wanted to be with Genna, but as a senior, his time was running out. So, I loved seeing his personality and how much he cared for her. Though the romance doesn't take a front seat to the story in this one, but it is sweet and I appreciated it being there. Her descent into the pills was realistic and emotional. I think it shows pretty clearly that things we think will never happen to us can. It focused on the fear and the way that the pills helped with the pain physically, but she also found it was a way to deal with the emotions too, of losing basketball, her dreams, and the issues with her parents. I also appreciated them showing a big focus on her recovery, being realistic about what she faced legally, emotionally and exploring the aspects of addiction, withdrawl and the consequences. I think that Sidelined ended well, and was wrapped up and presented what I was looking for and needed after an emotional story like this. Bottom Line: Emotional and realistic contemporary.