I am ashamed to admit, that although I have read pretty much every single word ever published by Stephen King, and most of Joe Hill, and even some of Owen King, I had honestly never even considered reading Tabitha King.
It wasn’t until PattyKates wrote a review of One on One back in 2015 that I ever really even thought about reading Tabitha King. That review convinced me to order a used paperback copy, which then sat on my TBR shelf until last weekend. I needed something to read at the pool, so I grabbed it. I had no idea what it was about.
I settled in to my chaise and opened it up.
Cut to: six hours later. I haven’t put the book down yet.
Long story short, my apologies to Tabitha King. The woman can write. Like her husband, she excels in portraying small-town life (yes, its in Maine) and its particular inhabitants. She understands what goes on in kitchens and coffee shops and high school hallways. She really gets how people actually talk to each other, which is a skill that many writers can’t grasp.
This is a story about a basketball team at a tiny high school in rural western Maine. The boys are the reigning State champs, and they have star Sam Styles leading them. The girls are good, but not quite as good as they could be. Their star is Deanie Gaultier, aka The Mutant. Deanie has a shaved head, piercings all over her face, and tattoos. And she plays basketball like a woman possessed.
Deanie and Sam butt heads a bunch of times, and eventually fall in love. (NOT A SPOILER, its right on the cover of the book!). But the path to their happy ending isn’t a clear one — there are tons of obstacles in the way. Sam’s family is struggling financially. His brother is fighting in the Gulf War and his sister is a deadbeat druggie. Deanie lives with her drunk mother and her horrifically abusive stepfather. Deanie gives her body away in exchange for drugs. Getting high helps her to make the rest of her life a little easier. When they first start spending time together, neither of them really knows why it feels right, but it just does. Soon, Sam realizes that Deanie is much more than the facade she presents to the world, and Deanie finds that Sam isn’t just a big, dumb jock.
I’ll admit, this book didn’t need to be over 500 pages long. But it was never boring and it kept surprising me. It was not your average teenagers-in-love story.
Lastly, because you can’t not mention her husband, I definitely appreciated Tabby’s little winks to Uncle Stevie’s writing. Greenspark Academy plays basketball against rival teams from Derry and Castle Rock in Maine, and it takes place just months before Mr. Leland Gault opens up his new shop called “Needful Things.”