Why did I listen to Home Field Advantage?
Home Field Advantage caught my attention from the moment I first read the synopsis. LGBTQIA+ romance? Sports romance? Secret dating? It sounded exactly what I needed. Plus, it was being released during Pride Month! So, it wasn’t very hard for me to click request on Netgalley, and (in)patiently wait to see if I was approved. Luckily, I was!
What is the story here?
Home Field Advantage follows the Atherton alligators who are in need of a new quarterback. Jack (Jaclyn) Walsh seems like she is just the right girl for the job. Only the alligators are not ready for her. Still reeling from the tragic loss of their previous quarterback, the team is quick to turn their back on Jack, refusing to accept her a part of the team.
Not only does the team turn its back on her but so does the entire cheerleading squad. Well except for Amber McCloud who desperately wants to cheer captain next year. She wants to use the promotion to help boost her college application so that she can finally leave this small minded town and embrace her life as a queer person. That isn’t going to happen though if the football team falls apart and everyone turns their backs on her. So, she is determined to try and keep a perfect harmony.
Only this would be so much easier if Jack wasn’t so cute and if they didn’t have such good chemistry together. Or if her fellow cheerleaders would help her try to fix the problems within the team instead of working to bring Jack down. `And if there weren’t so many secrets floating around – each one getting harder and harder to keep track of. It’s just alot for one person to handle.
How did I like Home Field Advantage?
Home Field Advantage has its moments of sweetness, moments of fire, and moments of heartbreak. Honestly, it was the perfect combination. The relationship between Jack and Amber was so cute and it wasn’t perfect which I loved. They have multiple serious conversations that are actually dealt with instead of being brushed under the rug. They not afraid to call each other especially Jack calling out Amber.
Jack is much more confident in who she is as an individual. The judgement still hurts her though. She didn’t expect to be fully accepted as a female quarterback but, she didn’t expect this much animosity either. I loved how there is a real look into internalized misogyny of society especially within the sports world. It was hard to see her getting bullied though just because of her gender and the fact that she was replacing the previous well-loved quarterback who had died in a drunk driving accident. Some of the other characters could be real assholes about everything and I loved when Jack put them in their place.
Amber experiences alot of character growth through this book. She has acknowledged to herself that she is queer and had a couple of experiences while at cheer camp but, has never publicly came out. Instead she is pretending to be dating her football playing best friend Miguel so that both of them can remain in the closet. I adored Amber and Miguel’s friendship – it felt so real. Being torn between her feelings for Jack and her loyalty to cheerleading forces her to actually look within herself and see what truly matters to her. She recognizes that if she doesn’t figure this out, there is a chance that she could lose everything important to her.
There is so much representation in Home Field Advantage! I especially liked that Amber’s mom is bisexual and provided a source of comfort and understanding for her daughter. She also wasn’t afraid to call Amber out when she thought she did something stupid. Along with the representation, there is also alot of homophobia that included homophobic jokes and comments from other characters. I felt that this was pretty realistic to the small town setting but also felt a tad overdone in parts. This is because even when the characters are called out, there is never a real moment of reflection and change. Sadly true for much of society especially where there is a much stronger sense of patriarchal values.
How did I like the narration?
Home Field Advantage is presented in a duel narrative with Natalie Naudus and Lori Prince as Amber and Jack. I felt that they truly brought the characters to life. In total, this audiobook is 7 hours and 7 minutes long, and I listened to it at 1.5x speed. I also listened to it basically in ONE sitting, and was completely engrossed in the story and the way it was being told. It was just so cute it sent butterflies to my stomach while also keeping real boundaries to help keep my tethered to Earth and the hypocrisy of society.
Rating: 4 Stars
*I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**