After leaving mysteriously two decades ago, financial ruin and his dying mother have brought Marcus Brinks back to his hometown of Rome, Alabama. Brinks, the former lead singer of ’90s indie-rock band Dear Brutus, takes a job teaching at his old school, where years ago, he and his friend Jackson conspired to get Deacon, the starting quarterback, and resident school jerk, kicked off the football team. Now it’s Jackson, head coach of Rome, who rules the school like Caesar, while Deacon plots his demise. This time Brinks refuses to get involved, opting instead for a quiet life with his high school crush, Becca. But will dreams of domestic bliss go up in flames when repercussions from the past meet the lying, cheating, and blackmail of the present? (taken from Amazon)
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available on March 15th.
GOAL!!!! Chad Alan Gibbs majorly scored in this nostalgia-inducing book, that is an excellent follow-up to the delightful Two Like Me and You (you can read my review of that book here). This book effortlessly alternated between funny and heartwarming.
The plot of the book is fairly simple. Marcus Brinks moves to a tiny town during his senior year. He quickly discovers a few things: there’s not too much to do on a Saturday night, the entire town is way too obsessed with high school football, and the girl of his dreams is dating the star quarterback. Of course, the quarterback is a huge jerk (is there a reason this trope is so common?), which Marcus and his buddies cite as their reason to take him down.
This tale unfolds partially in 1994, during Marcus’ senior year, and partially in 2017 when Marcus, now a has-been rockstar, moves back to said small town only to discover that: the town is still overly obsessed with football, and most of the main players from high school still live there. This includes the one. As Marcus settles back in, he realizes that there’s a football-field sized bundle of messed-up going on. From there, things go in some unexpected directions.
The great thing about this book is that, while the general storyline isn’t all that new, the characters are likable and easy to relate to. Silas, Marcus’ rap lyrics-spouting friend, made me smile. I’m pretty sure I knew that kid in high school. Then there was Jackson, who was third-string on the ridiculously huge football team. And of course, Deacon, the quarterback a-hole. If left alone, these characters could easily have been paper cutouts of every 90’s teen movie, but instead Gibbs infused them with humor and originality.
At times I felt sorry for Marcus, and at other times I really wanted to yell, “DUDE! Open your eyes!,” so obviously I became very invested in this book. While ostensibly a cute little romance, this book is much more than that. In fact, the romantic aspect ends up being less important than pretty much everything else, which I love. It’s a catalyst for everything after.
I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that it was perfect. If the book had ended any other way, I would have been very disappointed, but I shouldn’t have worried. Chad Alan Gibbs is an excellent writer, and I hope he has many more books up his sleeve.
Now, I’m off to listen to Weezer and happily sink in the 90’s nostalgia that this highly entertaining book inspired.