Contemporary Young Adult
Received through Teen Book Scene
Jordan's following in the the footsteps of her dad and older brother by leading her high school football team as captain and quarterback. She can't imagine doing anything else with her life and wants nothing more to play college football. Despite her father's adamant refusal to acknowledge how good Jordan really is, her senior year is looking pretty promising.
Until Ty arrives. Handsome, athletic, danger-to-her-position-as-quarterback Ty. Jordan has always been one of the guys, best friends with receiver Sam Henry since they were little and close friends with the rest of her teammates, but with the arrival of Ty Jordan starts to want to be seen less as their captain and more as a young woman.
Little does Jordan know that Ty's presence in her life will affect far more than her hormones, and as the year progresses everything around her begins to change. At home. On the field. With her friends. But her love of football remains unwavering, and in the face of romantic and family drama, it may be the one thing that will help her traverse it all.
Catching Jordan is a book that by all appearances seems as though it will hold few surprises; one that will be cute and enjoyable but fairly predictable, and one that’s sure to be entertaining without being emotionally taxing. Ms. Kenneally proves to us, however, just how misleading appearances can be, presenting us with a character rich story and a realistic portrayal of high school life that has us heart-deep in complicated relationships before we even have a chance to realize we’ve dipped a toe in the water. What could have been a simple story about a tomboy falling for the handsome new guy and discovering a different side of herself is in fact something far more interesting—a thorough examination of the ever-changing connections between friends and teammates as well as parents and children when wants, needs, and dreams begin to alter the landscape of the future for all those involved.
Upon first meeting Jordan, we wonder if we’ll be able to relate to a young woman whose entire life focuses on a single sport to the exclusion of all else, but her quirky sense of humor in addition to her love of the game of football and her teammates quickly has us throwing our full support behind her. We can’t help but read with a little smirk on our faces as the seemingly unflappable quarterback starts to unravel a bit in Ty's presence, the insecurities that a creep up endearing her to us for their ability to make her seem so very real. While Ty rattles her a bit, he never succeeds in reducing her to a young woman we don’t recognize, instead she maintains the same attitude we've appreciated all along but also begins to expand her tunnel vision with regard to football so it includes a few of the other things that make life worth living.
Perhaps the most unexpected aspect is the depth of feeling this story evokes, the new addition of Ty to both the school and the team creating a quiet rumble that steadily grows in strength until it threatens to crumble the very foundations of Jordan’s carefully constructed world. This tale could have consisted of several descriptive instances of doe eyes and casual brushes of various body parts, but it refuses to stay that superficial, instead plunging far beneath the surface to show us a young woman’s world thrown into emotional chaos as love and friendship are found in places she never previously thought to look. The resulting tension from the multitude of changes happening in rapid succession is something we feel with every inch of our being, and we find ourselves tangled in a spectacularly beautiful web of knots we're in no hurry to unwind.
Jordan’s family is another highlight of this tale, their conflicts with one another as intense as the drama caused by the handsome catalyst that is Ty, and their interactions like a shovel that digs the story ever-deeper, making it all the more intriguing for the new ground we gain. Sex is a prevalent topic, and while both Jordan and the other characters are a touch cavalier in their thoughts and actions, it's not emphasized so strongly as to detract from the rest of the story. Overall, Catching Jordan is a book easily devoured in one sitting and one that is far more satisfying than we initially expected, making it a truly pleasant surprise that lingers in our memories when we were previously convinced it would only be a passing fancy.