Book Review: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Published: 1st December 2011

Format: Paperback

Pages: 281

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Recommended Reading Age: 16+

Rating: 7/10

Amazon/Goodreads

What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though – she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there’s a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team… and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.

I know. I seem to be in the minority here in not loving Catching Jordan. I loved some parts, but it also left me with mixed feelings.

This is a definitely contemporary romance, so if you’re not into love triangles or romance-centered stories but were enticed by the sports aspect, this probably isn’t the book for you.

Despite not being a sports fan, I do, oddly enough, tend to enjoy books like Catching Jordan. For me, the balance was just about right, although I will admit to skimming some of the more detailed accounts of the games, since I really had absolutely no idea what the author was talking about. The whole sports scholarship process and the general academic structure in Catching Jordan was completely alien to me, but all the more interesting for it.

I went backwards and forwards on Jordan. I found her a refreshing female character, but can’t say I liked her much quite a lot of the time. I liked her closeness with her male friends, her passion and dedication to football, the respect she demands from her team players and her determination to be seen as an equal, instead of classified by her gender. But she also makes a lot of frustratingly stupid choices, is immature, looks down her nose on other girls and flat-out refuses to see the realities concerning her choice of career, college and society at large. She was, in a nutshell, a teenager.

The blatant sexist and misogynistic attitudes of the majority of the men in this book was the one thing that really irritated me. It was dishearteningly realistic at times, but did also feel a little over the top. No matter how respectful, protective and friendly these football players were with Jordan, it was completely at odds with their treatment of other young women – which was offensive, demeaning and crass, Carter being the one exception. Even Henry, who I otherwise loved, wasn’t completely innocent of this. Some of the characters were a little too much like your stereotypical jock or cheerleader. There is also a very casual attitude to sex in Catching Jordan, which some readers might have an issue with.

I must admit, I was disappointed that Jordan never calls these guys out on their behaviour, instead she judges the girls while simultaneously giving the guys a free pass. After all, boys with be boys. However, I can’t deny that this is, sadly, exactly the kind of attitude that is still far too prevalent in society, and applaud Kenneally for not shying away from it. Jordan is a difficult character to like, but she progresses a lot throughout the novel and thankfully does work through her own judgmental, and somewhat prejudice, attitude towards her fellow female classmates. Eventually, she also finds the confidence and courage to stand up to the college coach and players who see her as nothing more than a sexual object, a mascot with good legs.

Some of Jordan’s problems were self-made, and a tad melodramatic at times. I did, however, love the development of the fraught relationship between Jordan and her father and really loved reading her relationship with Sam Henry, who is definitely crush-worthy. There were also some brilliant scenes with a fake baby that had me laughing. Catching Jordan is good summer read, ideal for anyone looking for a slightly different contemporary romance, that that takes a look at the prejudices and expectations placed on young women and a sweet romance.

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