Under the Lights (The Field Party, # 2)
By: Abbi Glines
Published: August 23rd 2016 by Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary, Sports
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)
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Goodreads description--In the follow-up to Abbi Glines’s #1 New York Times bestseller Until Friday Night—which bestselling author Kami Garcia called “tender, honest, and achingly real”—three teens from a small southern town are stuck in a dramatic love triangle.
Willa can’t erase the bad decisions of her past that led her down the path she’s on now. But she can fight for forgiveness from her family. And she can protect herself by refusing to let anyone else get close to her.
High school quarterback and town golden boy Brady used to be the best of friends with Willa—she even had a crush on him when they were kids. But that’s all changed now: her life choices have made her a different person from the girl he used to know.
Gunner used to be friends with Willa and Brady, too. He too is larger than life and a high school football star—not to mention that his family basically owns the town of Lawton. He loves his life, and doesn’t care about anyone except himself. But Willa is the exception—and he understands the girl she’s become in a way no one else can.
As secrets come to light and hearts are broken, these former childhood friends must face the truth about growing up and falling in love…even if it means losing each other forever.
I feel like that book description isn't really accurate. Here's what you need to know. Willa used to live with her grandmother until her mother decided to bring her into her finally stable family in Arkansas. But Willa made some bad decisions that ended with her mother kicking her back out so she's back to live with her grandmother again. She's permanently changed as a result of her decisions, and she carries a lot of pain, guilt, and grief around with her as a result. Brady, Gunner, and Willa were a best friend trio before Willa moved to Arkansas. Brady and Gunner as still friends but not as close as they once were. Both boys are interested in the grown up Willa, and she has to decide which one she wants.
Brady has gotten himself into a situation where the girl he's dating is altogether attached to him, but he's not feeling it. He's been with her because it was easier than not being with her. While Gunner has been the guy always looking for a sure thing that will be over before it's really begun. Brady is surrounded with a good and loving family. He's the star quarterback. He has it all. And to top it all off, he's a good guy. Except I personally find it completely annoying that he's only with Ivy because he "doesn't want to hurt her." Man up, grow a pair, and realize that you're not saving her any pain by remaining with her. Ugh. Pet peeve.
Gunner, like I said, has been the kind of guy who doesn't commit. He doesn't do relationships. Part of that is because his family life is so messed up. He's the younger son that doesn't feel wanted at all. And truth be told, he's not off base for thinking such things. His family life was even more messed up than I could have imagined and was just as bad as an episode of Days of Our Lives. Gunner's has precious few people in his life that have really cared for him and that's affected him deeply.
I thought Abbi Glines did a pretty good job keeping me guessing in the beginning over who Willa would choose. I thought she now had more in common with Gunner, but Brady was the one she was crushing on from childhood and those kinds of crushes can be hard to kill. I did predict who her choice was, and I was happy about that.
Abbi Glines has a few things that are pretty common in all of her books that tend to annoy me. While they all mostly seemed present in Under the Lights as well, I felt they were minimized in comparison to many of her other books. I really appreciated how tame this book was which is a completely opposite of almost every book by Abbi Glines that I've read since Breathe. Kudos man.
I do have a few small complaints. I felt like the last chapter--the "six years earlier" chapter--could have been completely left out. It felt a bit cheesy to me after everything that the characters had been through. And even though it never really came out and said "I've been in love with you all along" that was essentially the vibe that it gave off. Plus it really felt like the only reason that chapter was included was to make the title make sense. Oh and while I'm thinking about it...I've kind of felt like the whole football/sports theme has been promoted by the book covers much heavier than it is actually present within the books. While I don't want football to dominate the book, it feels like it's missing a bit considering how they're titled and covered. Also there was something that should have extremely bothered me based on my current life situation but the tears just didn't flow. It was sad, but I would have expected to be blubbering like a baby.
All things considered, Under the Lights gets 3.5 Stars from me. I appreciated the lack of physical scenes than Abbi Glines usually includes. The family dynamics were quite soap opera-ish. But I blew through this book and kept wanting to come by to it if I had to put it down for any reason. Have you read Under the Lights? What did you think? Let me know!