Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Review: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Jordan Woods is the best high school quarterback in the state of Tennessee, but the people who really matter—her father, and the coach of her dream college football team—don’t take her seriously, just because she is a girl. All Jordan wants is to sign with Alabama, but her life gets turned upside down when a hot new quarterback, Ty, joins the team. Ty is making her want things she’s never really thought about before. Can she still remain herself and yet end up with the guy of her dreams?
Honestly, is every book that claims it is the next Dairy Queen going to end up being a huge disappointment? D.J. Schwenk’s title as Best “Rural” Tomboy has still not been usurped—has hardly been challenged, I think. CHASING JORDAN takes place in a setting where football is big, yes, but for me, that’s where the similarities end.
CHASING JORDAN was a typical YA “dramatic luv” story hiding under a sporty exterior. Sure, there was talk of Jordan being Tennessee’s best quarterback, but all real aspects of state-level varsity sport life soon fell by the wayside, overpowered by the drama of a typical teenage love triangle. Ty never fully developed into a believable character for me. Maybe that had something to do with the outcome of the book, but I don’t think that that is a valid reason for having one-dimensional characters: one can write believable, three-dimensional, and sympathetic characters without forcing them to pair up into happily-ever-afters (see: Donna Freitas). I wanted more sport, less “typical teen love drama”—but “teen luv” was exactly what I got.
But I think what bothered me the most—and perhaps this is just a “me” thing, but I’ve become incredibly sensitive to these things, and, come on, it’s 2012—was CATCHING JORDAN’s complete and utter dismissal of possible “alternative” lifestyles. I hesitate to even use that term “alternative,” since, like I said, it’s 2012, and gosh darnit, people can live whatever lifestyles they want! I understand, marginally, that CATCHING JORDAN is set in the American South, but I was so, so disappointed during that stupid Home Ec scene with the fake babies and the students needing to pair up to be “husbands and wives,” and everyone automatically turning to the only guy in the class, as if being paired up with a female classmate is the end of your social life. What is this, the 1960s? Add to that a story setting in which lots of guys are constantly together, and all they can think about are ditzy cheerleaders. Seriously. Ditzy cheerleaders. In a YA world where cheerleaders can be popular yet real people (again, see: Donna Freitas), this kind of cardboardism is so passé, it’s not even fun anymore. It’s just sad.
CHASING JORDAN’s main premise—of Jordan learning how to embrace her female desires and fall for a guy—was so bland that it allowed me to focus on all the little things about the setup of the story that bothered me and have now made their way into my review. If you’re picking this up because you want a simple love triangle story, that works; however, if you’re looking for a smart and fun book featuring the sports-related travails of a female athlete, you might do better to look elsewhere.
Cover discussion: It's cute in that generic way that covers get when they want to illustrate the sports aspect of a book that is supposedly about sports but really only has sports as a premise for the more inane story of teenage drama...OH WAIT.
Sourcebooks Fire / Dec. 1, 2011 / Paperback / 288pp. / $8.99
e-review copy received from NetGalley and publisher.