Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Game Plan Blog Tour: Review

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Natalie Corbett Sampson's Game Plan! I have a review of the book for you today, but first here's a little more information about this Young Adult contemporary novel:

Game Plan by Natalie Corbett Sampson
Game Plan
By Natalie Corbett Sampson
Fierce Ink Press

* A copy was provided for review for the blog tour.

Synopsis: Just because the play goes wrong, doesn't mean you quit the game.

Ella Parker seems to have everything: great friends, an awesome family and a star position on her high school basketball team. The only thing missing from her life is a boyfriend. That changes once she catches the eye of Sam Cleveland. With Sam by her side Ella has it all. When a drunken night results in an unwanted pregnancy, her perfect life is turned upside down and she’s faced with an impossible decision.

Katherine Frayne has always wanted to be a mother. But with the last results of her in vitro fertilization pointing to no chance of a baby, her hopes are dashed. Then her husband Danny suggests they adopt. At first Kat is resistant, but she soon warms to the idea.

Ella and Katherine must navigate their lives amidst tough decisions, the consequences of which not only affect them but those they love the most.

Review: If you’ve happened to read reviews for some of my less than successful attempts at reading realistic fiction, you might recall that the contemporary genre has to work rather hard to command my reading attention. Game Plan caught my eye because of the opportunity to view its narrative from two perspectives—that of Ella, a pregnant teenager, and Katherine and Danny, a childless couple hoping to adopt. I thought it would be interesting to see how their lives converged, and I wasn’t disappointed with that aspect of the novel. There’s certainly a touching story here, and in a book packed with so much emotion, I think it’s careful not to come off as cloying. I did have a few minor issues with the book, but they weren’t enough to lessen the story’s impact.

The novel’s pacing is something I struggled with occasionally. Game Plan chronicles almost a year in the lives of its three main characters, and there were times when I felt that the month-by-month format was a bit too much. It takes Ella quite a while to realize she’s pregnant, and then it’s an even longer wait page-wise until she gives birth. While the book maintained my interest throughout, there were spots where its momentum seemed to stall. The later chapters moved at a steadier speed, and they were the most absorbing to read.

It also took me some time to warm up to Ella. In the beginning, I was frustrated with her because she couldn’t see that Sam, the father of her baby, wasn’t exactly decent boyfriend material from the get-go. There was something about him that made me dislike him instantly, and with every subsequent chapter, his actions only sank my opinion of him lower and lower. I was also bothered by Ella’s inability to see how fake and shallow her “friend” Karen was until Karen blatantly turned on her. I do have to say that Ella matures significantly over the course of the novel and is a much wiser character by the end of it.

For me, the emotional center of the book was Katherine and Danny’s story. Their struggle to become parents is just heartbreaking. They go through an anguishing cycle of being considered as adoptive parents only to receive the call that they were not the couple chosen. Each disappointment edges them closer to their breaking point, which is gut-wrenching to see. Whereas I felt that Ella’s side of the narrative sometimes became sidetracked in subplots, such as her developing romantic relationship with Charlie, her brother’s longtime best friend, I thought Katherine and Danny’s tale was more tightly focused and flowed smoother.

Overall, Game Plan was a satisfying read that explored some heavy topics without turning into one big cliché. Including the view of prospective adoptive parents in a novel about teen pregnancy was a definite asset and what I liked most about the book.

All in All: If you enjoy contemporary fiction that both breaks and warms your heart, you might want to give this a try.

Find Natalie Corbett Sampson:

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  1. YAY a contemporary read that managed to hold your interest! As much as this books is out of my comfort zone on a few different levels (contemporary for one and I'm not a fan of pregnancy stories as a whole) I'm still curious about this one now. I'm especially interested in the character development you spoke of as well how the loves of all the main-characters will come together down the line! I'll have to keep this one in mind for a future contemporary read!! Wonderful review Lee ^^

    1. Sometimes I need a good contemporary read to remind me that all of that paranormal stuff isn't actually real because otherwise I'd probably forget, lol.


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