- Title: Home Field Advantage
- Author: Dahlia Adler
- Genre: Contemporary
- Intended audience: young adult
- Format read: eARC
- Publisher: Wednesday Books
- Pub date: June 7, 2022
- Content warnings: homophobia, mentions of death of a teenager, mentions of car crash from drunk driving, mentions of abortion
- Rating: 4/5 stars
Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review
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.
Home Field Advantage is your traditional, all-American love story between a cheerleader and a football player; except it’s gay!
While I say this a bit facetiously, it is also true that much of the delight of Home Field Advantage rests on the use and subversion of classic, American teen romcom tropes. There’s the big football game and the big apology. The football player/cheerleader relationship subverted through its placement in a F/F relationship and the makeover at the end that is actually a butch makeover. A lot of the romance in the book is super cheesy and trope-y, but it was incredibly cute and I genuinely had a great time reading it.
The main reason I enjoyed the book was almost certainly the romance. I was going through a F/F romance kick a few months ago, and Home Field Advantage was exactly what I was looking for. Amber and Jack are incredibly cute together. Their banter and flirtation was excellent, which made it incredibly fun to read.
The more substantial part of the book, which I also enjoyed a lot, dealt with queerness. Labels, identity, and what it means to be queer in a conservative environment. Amber identifies as polysexual, which is a particular identity that I have never actually seen represented in a book before. It was also a joy to watch Jack come into her own, with her butch makeover at the end. This is not even to mention the amazing queer side characters, like Amber’s bisexual mom or her best friend Miguel.
As someone who grew up in a conservative-leaning environment, I really appreciated getting to read about how the characters were interacting with queerness in their own conservative environments. While very few people are outright bigots, there are always going to people who never treat you the same, or simply ignore your queerness because it is more convenient. While I don’t agree with the decisions that Amber made as she went to great lengths to keep her relationship with Jack a secret, I do understand why she made them.
I can also credit this book with being the most I have ever cared about football. To be fair, the bar was pretty low; I am not exactly a sports person. But I was surprised to find myself incredibly invested in the games. Jack clearly loved it so much, it made me happy just to read about her playing and her joy of the game.
All in all, I think Home Field Advantage is a solid Sapphic contemporary romance, that also deals with many aspects of identity and queerness. It can be on the serious side sometimes, but those parts of the book are equally interesting to read. I would recommend it for those interested in a Sapphic high school romance, especially those who enjoy sports romances.