A smart and twisty debut YA that starts off like Friday Night Lights and ends with the power and insight of Dear White People.
Seton Academic High is a prep school obsessed with its football team and their thirteen-year conference win streak, a record that players always say they’d never have without Seton’s girls. What exactly Seton girls do to make them so valuable, though, no one ever really says. They're just "the best." But the team’s quarterback, the younger brother of the Seton star who started the streak, wants more than regular season glory. He wants a state championship before his successor, Seton’s first Black QB, has a chance to overshadow him. Bigger rewards require bigger risks, and soon the actual secrets to the team's enduring success leak to a small group of girls who suddenly have the power to change their world forever.
Seton Academic High prep school's varsity football team attributes tradition to their 12-year winning streak, and they're not about to let anything get in the way of another victory in Thomas's high-stakes debut. Though Aly Jacobs and her boyfriend J, both Black and 16, often feel out of place in their affluent, mostly white high school, they believe that Seton, despite its occasionally classist atmosphere, is the key to better future opportunities. J, the first Black quarterback in Seton football history, is on track to make the varsity team, but tensions run high when white Parker, the current quarterback and younger brother of the QB who led Seton to victory 13 years ago, believes that J is infringing on his territory. After Aly learns the football team's darkest secret, she must reckon with the possibility that exposing them could unfairly and disproportionately hurt her and J's futures. Thomas skillfully employs alternating past and present chapters, going as far back as Seton's first win, to illustrate the sinister ways in which the school's traditions were formed and maintained. Poignant conversations examining the lack of accountability for wealthy, well-protected men in power permeate this thought-provoking story. Ages 14–up. Agent: Ann Rose, Prospect Agency.
This debut my Charlene Thomas is intense, gripping, and fun. The author hits on topics that need to be talked about and does so in a way that draws you in—you begin to pull from your own experiences in high school and your early 20s. The dueling timelines makes it so that you are learning about the past while unraveling the present and it is very well done.