19th November 2013, Fierce Ink Press, 360 pages, Paperback & ebook, Review copy
Themes: being at high school, having a close-knit family, the highs and lows of having a brother, loving
basketball, being blinded by what you want to believe, making mistakes, tough decisions, getting hurt badly, supportive friends, friends who become enemies, taunting, love, continuous disappointment, breaking tricky news to family
Content: teen relationships, pregnancy, having a baby, lots of tissues needed
Summary from Fierce Ink Press
Just because the play goes wrong, doesn't mean you quit the game.
Ella Parker seems to have everything: great friends, an awesome family and a star position on her high school basketball team. The only thing missing from her life is a boyfriend. That changes once she catches the eye of Sam Cleveland. With Sam by her side Ella has it all. When a drunken night results in an unwanted pregnancy, her perfect life is turned upside down and she’s faced with an impossible decision.
Katherine Frayne has always wanted to be a mother. But with the last results of her in vitro fertilization pointing to no chance of a baby, her hopes are dashed. Then her husband Danny suggests they adopt. At first Kat is resistant, but she soon warms to the idea.
Ella and Katherine must navigate their lives amidst tough decisions, the consequences of which not only affect them but those they love the most.
I've read several books which involve teen pregnancy and this is by far my favourite because I actually liked all the characters (minus the evil ones) and felt the ending was perfect. I 'm a get married first kind of girl, but I was immensely proud of how Ella handled the situation. Despite the obvious one she did make other mistakes, and for a while lost the trust of those who cared for her, but they rallied round when she really needed them. I wanted to wave my arms and direct her away from the oncoming trouble, but I couldn't. I sat and cried over several parts of both Ella and Kathryn's story. I loved how Kathryn & Danny's emotional tale was told - it brought to light how tough being accepted for adoption is and all the emotions that come with the process.
Although she starts with a sleaze Ella does get rescued by a knight who is an amazing guy (yes it takes a lot for me to say that, especially in situations I don't fully approve of). I felt that Ella's new life couldn't have got any better, barring never being pregnant. It showed how much pressure some girls can be under, from their sleazy boyfriends and also how hard it is when so called friends turn on them, and the rumours go around school. Ella was immature at times but she had good reason to be, and in the end she acted with great maturity for her age. This is such gripping read which had me constantly texting a friend saying it had made me cry again, with not too much lingering on the more adult situations.
Find out more on Natalie's website.
Another book which is equally touching is Instructions For Bringing Up Scarlett by Annie Sanders (Fiction, 10E/10E)
Guest Blog Post by Natalie Corbett Sampson
Nayu here! This is an awesome book, which makes it doubly special that I'm reviewing it for Natalie's blog tour, and Natalie kindly wrote a guest blog about the book!
I’ve wanted to write about adoption for a while, starting with my own blog as we adopted our daughter. Instead the question may be, ‘why did you include Ella?’ because originally I wanted to write from my own experience – it’s what I knew, it’s what I was comfortable representing, it’s what was pushing to be told – so that’s where I started. One of the most important lessons I learned from my own adoption is that there are three sides to the story – the birth family, the adoptive family and the baby. Too often an adoption story is only known by one side of that triad and I didn’t want to write a one sided story – each would be incomplete without the other. Adopting a baby is a joyful, magical experience but it alwayscomes at great loss. By including Ella’s story I hoped to respect that truth and demonstrate it to readers who may have only experienced the happy part of adoption. As the novel developed I realized Ella’s story was stronger (not more true) and more intriguing and I started to realize it was leaning towards more of a YA book. I remember charting out months of the year to follow Ella’s pregnancy and struggling to come up with something new to write about Kat and Danny for each month. In the end I cut a great deal of Katherine’s story because it was less integral to the book in the YA genre. I hope that somewhat makes sense!
Writing two stories in parallel creates a challenge of making characters that are distinct. This was particularly difficult because I wrote both Ella and Kat from my own experiences. Not only are there two parallel stories but the point of view switches between them with little formatting signals, which meant I had to be accurate and consistent with the differences between the characters. It was important that the reader not have to spend time wondering who was the subject of each segment – that takes away from the message and the story. Whitney Moran, the first editor made excellent suggestions about dialogue and actions of the characters to make them individuals – changing the slang they used, for example, or pointing out action that was more likely to be done by another character. It was helpful to have her perspective of new eyes to see where things were too similar and how to make them different – for someone unfamiliar with the characters judge how clear the voices were. I think her suggestions were paramount to the ultimate success of separating the voices in Game Plan. It just goes to show how valuable it is to have someone new, different and unfamiliar read and edit a text.
Thank you again Natalie for explaining a bit more detail about writing Game Plan - it's on my reread pile, and hopefully many more readers will see just how touching a read it is.