Author: Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Australia
Love is the toughest game of all.
Bad boy Derek has been kicked out of boarding school, and he’s heading for more trouble…
Ashtyn is close to losing her boyfriend, just like everyone else she’s ever cared about. Leading her school’s American football team to the championships is all that matters now…
As Derek and Ashtyn are thrown into each other’s lives, the games are wild- on and off the field. Will Ashtyn put her dreams, and her heart, on the line for someone who loves to play by his own rules, or is Derek just too hot to handle?
Thoughts on the book: DOES CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS
I received this book last year for review and it has been sitting on my TBR review book shelf this whole time. I finally decided a couple of months ago that I was going to try and read all of the books that have been sitting on this shelf for over a year (hate to admit it but there are a few). I really don’t know why I left this book there for so long, it was the perfect book to start off with doing this. Wild Cards really appealed to me at this time because I had just finished watching the series Friday Night Lights and found myself really liking American Football and everything that goes along with it (being Australian we play AFL which is so much different).
Okay so I am going to talk about three things that I really liked within the book.
Firstly I loved the fact that Ashtyn was a girl playing a boys sport where most of the world frowns upon girls playing it. Not only did she have to contend with outside people not taking her seriously but her own so called boyfriend wouldn’t accept that she had been chosen as Captain of their team over him. He went that far as to transfer to a new team because of it. But no matter what the people who didn’t believe in her thought, her team and coach believed in her and her abilities and that is why she was chosen to lead them, Girl Power. And when she wasn’t doing well at football camp because Landon had turned all the other players against her she never gave up and continued playing the way she always had never letting on how much they were actually hurting not only her but her opportunities of playing in the big leagues.
Secondly was the way that Derek learnt to deal with his mother’s death after all this time. Derek blames himself for not being with his mother when she died as seen from the scene below:
‘I’m fighting all the time for everything and I don’t see you fighting for anything. It’s like you want to keep punishing yourself for some unknown reason.’
‘You’re right.’ This independent girl, who plays football and has a thicker skin than most guys I know, makes me want to share stuff with her that I’ve never shared with anyone else. I take a deep breath and let out what I’ve been holding inside for so long.
‘The day my mom died I got a call after school from one of the nurses at the hospital. She said my mom had been askin’ for me all day.’ I throw my head back and wince, because the memory still fucking hurts. I’d do anything to turn back time and do that day over again. ‘I went to practice first, Ashtyn, I put football before my mom… I put t before everythin’ else. When I finally got to the hospital she was already gone.’
Two days later I stood there watching as they lowered my mom’s casket into the ground. I failed her. Her death was so permanent, so final. I’d never get a second chance to make it up to her. ‘I vowed I’d never play again after she died.’
He blamed football for him not being by his mother’s side when she died and so then decided that he would never play or associate himself with football again, which would have been really hard as he was really good at it and could have gone very far. It takes him until really meeting Ashtyn and seeing her follow her dreams and getting to know his grandmother more that he discovers that what his mother would have really wanted him to do was continue doing whatever he loved and never hold back.
The third thing is the dynamic family set up. So there is Derek and his dad, who is married to a young women called Brandi who has a son called, Julian from a previous relationship and another baby on the way. Now this is all fine and normal but then you add in Brandi’s family, who they go and live with: there is her grumpy old dad and Ashtyn, Brandi’s younger sister who happens to be the same age as Derek. This means that Derek’s new step-aunt is the same age as him and then not only that they end up hooking up. This crazy dynamic would properly see a lot of people go What the hell, that’s not right but I think it is awesome. It makes the story so much more interesting. Then there is also the crazy ass grandma of Derek’s that he doesn’t even know who sends him a message saying that she has been diagnosed and has come to release that she would like to make some changes in her life for the better and one of them is getting to know the grandson who’s life she hasn’t been a part of. The funny bit is that she doesn’t really have anything wrong with her and kind of makes him come and see her under false pretences. But it turns out to have a really good storyline that goes along with it all.
Favourite character: I know most people would say that either Ashtyn or Derek would be their favourite character but mine would have to be Derek’s grandmother, Elizabeth Worthington. We are first introduced to Elizabeth when Derek receives a letter from her saying:
My Dearest Derek,
I’m writing this letter to you with a heavy heart. I have just been diagnosed and have been reflecting upon the mistakes I’ve made in my life. There are things I need to make right before my imminent death. Since you are my one and only grandchild, it is imperative we meet after my treatment on June Twentieth. It’s my last, dying wish. There are things that you don’t know- that you need to know- that you MUST know.
With Eternal Love,
Elizabeth Worthington (your grandmother).’
Of course she isn’t actually dying and we later find out that this is just the way she is. What I love most about her is the fact that everyone thinks that she is just another rich old lady and all she cares about it money, but as Derek and everyone else learns is that she isn’t all about the money. She takes everything in and offers some really good advice and is ready and willing to help people whenever they really need her.
‘Don’t bring my mom into this.’
‘Why not? Quitting won’t bring her back. You say you don’t have a goal? That’s bullshit! You need to go for what you want and not hold back. When you figure it out let me know, because I’ll bet my left nut you have a goal but won’t admit to yourself what it is.’
The corner of my mouth twists upward. ‘You don’t have a left nut, Ashtyn.’