Miranda Kenneally rocks, y’all. I have the pleasure of knowing her in real life, and this gal is every bit as sweet, funny, and real as the characters she writes. (She’s also always game for drinking a gin rickey, so major kudos there.) But—this is so embarrassing—even though I’d had CATCHING JORDAN on my to-read list since first hearing about it (and who wouldn’t! GIRLS PLAYING FOOTBALL!), I still hadn’t read it after hanging out with her several times. I finally took care of that, and tore through it one Sunday afternoon.
CATCHING JORDAN rocks, and here are three reasons why.
The boys. Miranda writes real, actual high school-aged boys. They don’t sparkle in the sunlight and unabashedly offer up their feelings. They have way more testosterone than their bodies are equipped to handle, and say stupid things, and play stupid games, and sometimes feel bad about it later, but not always as much as they should. They are legitimate teenaged creatures.
The South. Miranda nails this, too. Instead of smearing Tennessee with one y’all-colored brush, Miranda digs into the dynamics in a way that few writers manage. Jordan’s family lives in just the sort of over-the-top southern manse that you’d expect for an NFL family, new but eagerly tended to by a stay-at-home mom and fitted with only the most important elements: foosball tables and 4-wheelers.
But she hits all the other points on the spectrum as well, from weathered trailer parks to squinty little houses that only a realtor would call a “cottage.” And Jordan and her family, new to this moneyed world and essentially good ol’ boys and gals at heart, move seamlessly from the Tennessee Titans’ owner’s box to the muddy fields.
The characters. There are so many characters at play, and at first I thought I’d be overwhelmed by them, but each filled a crucial and natural role in the story, from Carrie the well-meaning cheerleader who always has Jordan’s back to all of Jordan’s teammates. I got so invested in the smaller dramas of who’d get scholarships to which colleges. And the ‘Bama coach. THE ‘BAMA COACHING STAFF. I would be slack-jawed in disbelief if it wasn’t so incredibly true of a certain kind of character one encounters in the South.
Miranda’s next book, STEALING PARKER, is out from Sourcebooks in October and I’m sure I’ll only love it more. (Baseball. Hot for teacher. Want.) Even if you aren’t a sports fan, give these books a chance.