When the rugby team gets a new coach, captain and angry-white-young-man Jack Slade has his life changed forever. The team used to have fun, but lost games more often than not. Their new coach inspires and pushes them to success, and in return the boys have to dedicate their whole lives to the sport. The boys become the stars of their school, feared by other rugby players for their rough behaviour, and suddenly very attractive to girls seeking the glamour of relationships with these infamous lads.
Gem fancies Jack from the start. She loves watching him play – but when they start dating feels increasingly uncomfortable around his team mates and coach. It seems like he has to spend all his spare time with them, and the boys are picking up bad attitudes towards women from their manipulative coach. She wants to be with Jack, and for him to be happy, but she needs more respect.
This is a pretty quick read with an absorbing story. Some of the characterisation is a little rushed, there isn’t very much background information given about the school and the characters but it fits with the pace. The relationship between Gem and Jack is realistically portrayed, from their first awkward meetings to their frank discussions as they become more serious about each other.
There really shouldn’t be so much pink on the cover of this book. It is not a sickly love story, and the narrative is split between the point of view of two characters, a girl and a boy, alternating between them. Kate Cann writes male characters brilliantly, and it’s a shame that the cover could put boys off reading it.
I would recommend this book to mid-teenagers, both girls and boys (if you can get the latter to look past the cover). There is a fair bit of sexual content but all the sex is safe, and I think it’s important that teenagers learn not to be embarrassed about protecting themselves. Anyone over the age of 17 will probably find the storyline a bit simplistic, but if you read teen/young adult fiction regularly you should enjoy this. Like all of Kate Cann’s novels it has a realistic story and I could imagine it happening all over the country for real.