Hi everyone! I hope this week has been treating you well and that you’re reading something exciting! As for me, the last couple of days I’ve been reading a book for the latest TBR & Beyond Tours book tour, which also happened to be one of my most anticipated reads of the year – Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler. To know more about my feelings on this book, keep on reading and, as always, click on the banner below to see the other posts from this tour!
Title: Home Field Advantage
Author: Dahlia Adler
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT+, Young Adult
Synopsis: In this sweet and funny new f/f romance from the author of Cool for the Summer, a cheerleader and the school’s newest quarterback are playing to win, but might lose their hearts in the process.
Amber McCloud’s dream is to become cheer captain at the end of the year, but it’s an extra-tall order to be joyful and spirited when the quarterback of your team has been killed in a car accident. For both the team and the squad, watching Robbie get replaced by newcomer Jack Walsh is brutal. And when it turns out Jack is actually short for Jaclyn, all hell breaks loose.
The players refuse to be led by a girl, the cheerleaders are mad about the changes to their traditions, and the fact that Robbie’s been not only replaced but outshined by a QB who wears a sports bra has more than a few Atherton Alligators in a rage. Amber tries for some semblance of unity, but it quickly becomes clear that she’s only got a future on the squad and with her friends if she helps them take Jack down.
Just one problem: Amber and Jack are falling for each other, and if Amber can’t stand up for Jack and figure out how to get everyone to fall in line, her dream may come at the cost of her heart.
Dahlia Adler’s Home Field Advantage is a sparkling romance about fighting for what – or who – you truly want.
Content warnings: off-page death by car accident, off-page pregnancy loss (including some on-page conversation about abortion), homophobia, misogyny, alcohol use (light), references to racism
Home Field Advantage was one of my most anticipated 2022 releases – I absolutely loved Dahlia Adler’s previous release, Cool for the Summer, and as someone who’s played in an extremely male-dominated sport for eleven years, I was really excited for this plot-wise too. The book follows Amber who is a shoo-in to become captain of the cheerleading squad next year, while hiding her sexuality away from the world in the form of her footballer fake boyfriend, Miguel, who is also gay and closeted. But when the new quarterback starts for school football team to replace a school ‘hero’ who died before term started, the whole school is turned upside-down when they find out that the QB is in fact a girl. To make matters more confusing, Amber finds herself falling for her.
I know absolutely nothing about American football. I played rugby for eleven years and to me American football just seems like a watered down version of the sport that stops and starts for absolutely no reason. Also what’s with all the unnecessary padding? A gum shield and a scrum cap is the most you need! But I digress! I went into this book knowing next to nothing about the sport that plays such a central role in the plot – though I do know a tad bit more about cheerleading – because I am nothing if not a slut for sapphic sports romances! And I wasn’t disappointed. There were only a couple of football match scenes which, for the most part, weren’t that difficult to follow along with when the majority of my knowledge does come from Glee…. And that was definitely made better by the fact that the new quarterback, Jack, is a muscly butch lesbian which is exactly my type! (If you’re my girlfriend and reading this…don’t @ me).
Amber and Jack as main characters were really interesting and I loved reading from both of their perspectives. If I had to choose, I’d probably say that Amber was my favourite of the two. I enjoyed getting to see her internal battle throughout the book – of her striving to get to the top in the one thing that could guarantee her a future, of loving and hating her best friends, and grappling with her attraction to Jack, the school outcast.
Speaking of Jack being the school outcast, I really felt for her while reading this book, and as someone who was bullied in school (several times) and who played for both the girls’ and women’s rugby teams, a lot of what she went through hit really close to home for me. By around the final third of the book, at times I could not read the pages because of tears blurring my eyes. I sobbed at this book. It just felt like all the bullying just kept on piling and piling up until it got too much for me. My rugby teams were also treated like shit by the boys and men – and coaches – that were meant to be our equals and it just hurt a lot. It felt like I was dredging up a lot of my trauma while reading this and at the end I hoped for some redemption, but when the book ended all I felt was, oh, that’s it? That’s it finished? Yes we got a slight redemption arc (that did feel underdeveloped) from one character and a couple of football players who finally gave up on their bullying tirade, but there was so much that was simply not dealt with. I may go into slightly spoiler-y territory here, so if you want to avoid that, skip to the next paragraph! Okay, last chance to skip ahead! The football team were horrible bullies and misogynists, and a large portion of the cheerleading squad were homophobes, and did they face any repercussions? No. Yes this reflects real life, but it would have been nice for once, even in a fictional sense, to have them face the consequences. There was also the matter of the football coach who stood by and let the bullying happen, even when he knew it was going on. Again, this is sadly realistic – I had a rugby coach who didn’t turn up to a really important competition final at the national stadium because he was hungover, yet constantly treated the younger boys’ teams (which included my younger brother) much better. I just wish for once there was some form of justice, but instead I was left teary-eyed and hopeless.
Furthermore, while reading, there was one section, which you may miss if you blink, that was really quite transphobic and really threw me out of the story. At one point, Jack is asked if there is any sport that she isn’t good at and she says badminton. Another character then says – and I quote – “Makes sense you wouldn’t be into the shuttlecock”. There is no hiding from the meaning that was placed in that sentence, and the fact that it comes from a character who is also queer is even worse. For an author that really makes an effort to be inclusive in their books regarding sexuality (though Dahlia Adler definitely has a long way to go with gender, racial, and disability diversity), it was tiresome to read yet another transphobic joke placed upon a lesbian character. Just give it up already.
That being said, this was a really good read, and I enjoyed the majority of my time. The first half of the book in particular was a really fun take on the whole quarterback/cheerleader trope and the romance and friendships were really sweet. I do recommend picking this up, but be wary of the trigger warnings, and I am already looking forward to reading more by Dahlia Adler in the future!
About the Author:
Dahlia Adler (she/her) is an Editor of mathematics by day, a Buzzfeed blogger and LGBTQReads overlord by night, and a Young Adult and Romance author at every spare moment in between. Her novels include the Radleigh University trilogy, Kids’ Indie Next pick Cool for the Summer, and Home Field Advantage, and she is the editor of the anthologies His Hideous Heart (a Junior Library Guild selection), That Way Madness Lies, At Midnight, and, with Jennifer Iacopelli, Out of Our League (upcoming from Feiwel & Friends). Dahlia lives in New York with her family and an obscene number of books, and can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @MissDahlELama.