This book is written for a pretty specific audience, and if you’re in that niche, you will almost certainly love this book.
Plot: The plot is heavily inspired by taking on knee during the national anthem. In this novel, the quarterback of the Mustangs begins to take a knee as well, with his protest not only about the general state of things for black people in America but also specifically targeting the Mustangs in not supporting older retired players suffering from severe adverse health complications like Alzheimer’s. He’s hooked up with a biracial PR director working for the Mustangs to help manage the fallout, but while she supports his protest, she really loves the team too, and feels like her job is her one remaining connection to her father, who passed away. Unsurprisingly, the owner is a big racist asshole.
This is book 4 of The Playbook series. I didn’t pick up the others because it is nearly impossible to get me interested in a sports-focused story but I’m a sucker for raging against institutional racism.
The characters in this book are set up really interestingly. A legacy player that invariably faces endless criticism for his protest given the seeming nepotism affecting his success. A biracial woman raised by the white side of her family struggling to find her place both in society and also in the struggle for racial parity, where she doesn’t feel entirely at home because of her upbringing. The book challenges the idea that every person of colour is born with a deep knowledge of systemic racism and its intersectionality with other equity seeking groups. That simply knowing something is wrong is often not enough for trigger action for people, because how do you fight an invisible enemy without allies?
The major issue for me was that this book is really written for people who already love football and want a book that celebrates that. There isn’t really an effort to bring in a person outside the fandom in, which is probably wonderfully refreshing for folks that fit the criteria (the same way I love books that mention nerd shit without feeling the need to explain it). However, I am not that person, so it was really hard for me to relate to the stakes, the internal conflict, and the way people behaved. As a result, a lot of stuff felt like contrivances and Big (and small) Misunderstandings.
There is clearly an attempt to genuinely think through how to believably create obstacles for the characters (I don’t recall the last time I’ve seen a fictional lawyer actually correctly acknowledge that there are requirements to establishing a solicitor-client relationship and therefore solicitor-client privilege, even if they only make the barest attempt to satisfy those requirements). What this tells me is that there is a lot of thinking that’s gone into how the plot progresses and how the characters behave, only it’s not landing for me specifically.
So take this review with a grain of salt. If you like romance and football and anti-racism, you will almost certainly love this book, but if you’re not a big sporter, this might not be for you.