Forward March Review + Blog Tour

Hi everyone, I hope you’re doing well! It’s spring already and I’m super excited for warmer weather and longer evenings – and so, of course, I’m in a contemporary romance mood when it comes to reading! So, I was so excited to be a part of the TBR and Beyond Tours book tour for one of my highly anticipated sapphic 2022 releases – Forward March by Skye Quinlan! This was a sweet yet exciting sapphic YA contemporary and I can’t wait for you all to read it!

Title: Forward March

Author: Skye Quinlan

Pages: 288

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT+, Young Adult

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Synopsis: What’s worse? Someone using your face for catfishing or realizing you actually do have a crush on the catfished girl?

Harper “Band Geek” McKinley just wants to make it through her senior year of marching band—and her Republican father’s presidential campaign. That was a tall order to start, but everything was going well enough until someone made a fake gay dating profile posing as Harper. The real Harper can’t afford for anyone to find out about the Tinder profile for three very important reasons:

1. Her mom is the school dean and dating profiles for students are strictly forbidden.
2. Harper doesn’t even know if she likes anyone like that—let alone if she likes other girls.
3. If this secret gets out, her father could lose the election, one she’s not sure she even wants him to win.

But upon meeting Margot Blanchard, the drumline leader who swiped right, Harper thinks it might be worth the trouble to let Margot get to know the real her.

With her dad’s campaign on the line, Harper’s relationship with her family at stake, and no idea who made that fake dating profile, Harper has to decide what’s more important to her: living her truth or becoming the First Daughter of America.

I was so intrigued by this book ever since it was announced – of course, as you know, I’m a sucker for sapphic contemporary novels, but, living in Scotland, marching band isn’t really a thing here, so I was really curious to read this book on its release. The novel follows Harper who loves being a part of her school’s band, yet has the shadow of her mum being the dean and her dad’s political career looming over her. When Harper finds out that someone is impersonating her on Tinder, she starts to panic – students aren’t allowed dating profiles and her match is fellow drummer in the school band, Margot, but Harper isn’t even sure if she likes girls. But after getting to know Margot, Harper starts forming a friendship with her, but this could put her whole life, and her father’s political campaign on the line.

First and foremost, I loved the setting of this book – Harper studies at a prestigious private school headed by her mother, and I love boarding school books. I’m not quite sure what it is about them but they always seem to heighten my enjoyment of a book! I loved getting to follow Harper through her band rehearsals and study hours in her dorm, as well as playing her saxophone at school football games and even visiting a renaissance fair. It really was so fun and I think it also fed really well into the tricky friendships in the book, as well as Harper’s feelings of being stifled and not being able to figure herself out in her own time.

When I looked at a couple of reviews for the book, I noticed that some people didn’t love the difficult to navigate friendships that Harper has throughout the book, but I thought they seemed really natural. To some, the drama in Harper’s friend group may seem slightly contrived, but I thought that it was perfectly written – teenagers can be cruel for no reason and the falling outs and making back up again were so realistic to me, and I really feel that so many teens reading this book will be able to relate to Harper in their own lives. Furthermore, I really enjoyed seeing Harper gain new, strong friendships throughout the book, finding people she can rely on and who love her for who she is, and not because of who her parents are.

Of course, I have to mention the relationship. I thought Harper’s coming out journey was written so well and was handled with so much care and the on-page asexual and lesbian rep is going to be so valuable for younger teens who are also questioning their sexuality. The romance is pretty slow burn and grows off of a strong, stable friendship, and if you know me, I love friends to lovers! It was a super healthy and adorable romance and it was exactly what I was looking for going into this book!

However, I did have a couple of issues while reading. The main one being her father’s political opinions. From the start, and even in the synopsis, it is established that her dad is running for the Republican party – a right wing group. Though at times throughout the book, Harper admits that she is not a fan of his politics, it was not developed on enough for my liking. I can understand that maybe the author didn’t want this to be a really political book, but when it is really important to the story that he is running for President as the Republican candidate, I think that it’s really important to discuss how harmful the Republican party’s politics are. And this is especially true since Harper divulges that both of her parents are homophobic, and that this directly affects her throughout the book. It didn’t feel like enough for me and I think that some good political discussion would have really done well in the book, because after all, teens aren’t fragile, they know about politics and it affects their lives, so why gloss over it? I also thought that the ending was a bit rushed and that the other person having a crush on Harper was a bit unnecessary to the whole plotline and didn’t make much sense with what we’d read about them so far, but I can look past that since the other reveals worked well in my opinion.

Overall, this was a really fun, unique addition to sapphic YA contemporary that I think so many young people will benefit from and love and I can’t wait to see what Skye Quinlan releases next!

About the Author:

Skye Quinlan (she/her) was born in California during an earthquake and raised in the Midwest, where cornstalks outnumber people. She studied physical and cultural anthropology at Oregon State University, with a focus on ancient civilizations and a minor in creative writing. Forward March (Page Street Kids, February 1st, 2022) is her debut novel. When she’s not writing, you can catch her at the nearest metaphysics or craft store, dressed up in cosplay at the nearest convention, or ruining antique furniture with epoxy resin and paint. Skye still lives in the Midwest with her wife, their two dogs, several lizards, a snake, and the occasional little human (their niece). She is represented by Moe Ferrara at BookEnds Literary Agency.

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