In Review: Sidelined by Kendra C. Highley

Posted October 21, 2013 by Kim in 4 Stars, In Review / 0 Comments

In Review: Sidelined by Kendra C. HighleySidelined Publication date: October 1, 2013
Format: eARC, 250 pages
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My rating:

After being pushed to excel her entire life, high school basketball star Genna Pierce is finally where she wants to be. University scouts are taking notice, her team is on its way to the state tourney, and Jake Butler, the hot boy she's daydreamed about since ninth grade, is showing some definiteinterest. When he asks her out and their relationship takes off, Genna believes things can't get better.

Then, it's over.

A freak accident ends her career before it's even begun. Her parents are fighting more than ever, her friends don't understand what she's going through, and she's not sure who she is without basketball. And while he tries to be there for her, Genna doesn't understand how Jake could ever want the broken version of the girl he fell for.

Her life in a tailspin, Genna turns to the only solace that eases her pain: Vicodin.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In Review: My Thoughts

“The thing I’ve worked hardest for is gone. My life, my reason for existing at all.. over.”

Things are going well in Genna Pierce’s life. She’s a star basketball player who is about to lead her team to the state championships. College scouts are making offers. She’s started dating the guy she’s had a crush on since 9th grade. Life is great. That is, until things go wrong in a split second on the basketball court and she suffers a career-ending injury. Now, instead of facing the exciting prospects of her future, like selecting a college and getting out of her small town, she’s undergoing multiple surgeries, taking physical therapy to learn to walk again and numbing the pain – physical and mental – with Vicodin.

“I let my dream fall to the floor. I watch as it crashes and breaks, and grief rolls over me in tsunami-sized waves, threatening to pull me to the bottom of the sea.”

I really liked Genna and my heart broke for her when she realized the extent of her injury and what it meant she was giving up. I can’t imagine what it must be like to see your future go down in flames so spectacularly through no real fault of your own. It was gut-wrenching. Basketball was who she was. It’s what her mother drilled into her from an early age. She’s not only lost her future, she’s lost her identity. As the physical and mental pain get to be more than she can bear, she depends more and more on Vicodin – going to some crazy lengths to acquire it. She pushes away the people closest to her – Jake and Rowan – as she loses herself in the addiction. Deep down she knows she has a problem, but she’s in over her head.

“I don’t want to see Jake. It’s not because I’m pouting – I’m embarrassed. He saw me at the worst moment of my life, and now any mystique I had is gone. I’m no longer the badass basketball player who isn’t scared of anything. What if the new, lesser me isn’t enough for him? And why would I be?”

Genna and Jake had a great thing starting before her injury. They had been friends for years, but she had been crushing on him hardcore. He’s a star football player and has a quite the reputation with girls. They’ve only gone out a couple of times, but their feelings for each other are strong. I think the uncertainty with the newness of the relationship played a lot into her feelings of inadequacy when it came to him. She really likes him. She can’t bear the thought of losing something else right now, but she pushes him away.

“You just can’t help yourself, can you? You’re determined to be catnip to girls.”

“So you’re saying that because of your drug problem, you’re not good enough for me? The same guy who did two girls at the prom last year because the opportunity presented itself? The same guy who could’ve hooked up with a third, except she changed her mind? You’re not good enough for that guy?”

I’m not even going to lie – I loved Jake. He was swoon-worthy. I felt terrible for the way Genna was pushing him away. While I understood why she was doing it, it was obvious all he wanted was to be there for her, to help her. Comments at the beginning of the book alluded to Jake’s past with regards to girls and it was hard to imagine that giving how attentive he was to Genna and how he genuinely seemed to care for her. He changed for her and can’t understand why she won’t let him be there for her. I thought Genna and Jake made a wonderful couple. They both had issues. Despite the newness of their relationship, it was obvious they both cared for each other deeply. They weren’t perfect, but they were perfect together. I desperately wanted them to work through their issues.

“I hurt. The pills help.”
Dad understands what I mean. “Then we need to find something else that helps more.”

I have a love-hate relationship with Genna’s parents in this novel. I don’t like her mother. She’s overbearing and pushy. She’s forcing her dream on Genna – which I guess was mostly ok because it was Genna’s dream as well. What wasn’t ok was how she dealt with the injury and the resulting end of that dream. She was despicable. I understand it had to be difficult to watch your child go through something like that – especially since it was a dream they shared – but she was a poor parent. Genna’s dad needed to grow a backbone a little sooner in the story. But, he was the only parent who was there for Genna. He was supportive and wonderful, what a parent should be.

“I spent months trying to be good enough for you. This… problem isn’t taking us down.”

Those novel handled a lot of difficult issues in a graceful way. It had a positive, hopeful message without being cliché. I had hopes for how things would turn out in the end, but I didn’t know for sure what was going to happen until it did. Despite the depth of the issues it dealt with, this was an easy book to read. I breezed through it in a couple hours. I wanted to see Genna piece herself back together, fight her addiction and move on with her life, regardless of how impossible doing so seemed in the days and weeks immediately following her injury. There’s no cliffhanger here and the storyline wrapped up nicely at the end. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary young adult lit with depth.

About Kendra C. Highley

Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to two self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most important job. She believes chocolate is a basic human right, running a 10k is harder than it sounds, and that everyone should learn to drive a stick-shift. She loves monsters, vacations, baking and listening to bad electronica.


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