The Shortstop by A.M. Madden
“Quint and Annie sitting in a tree…K.I.S.S.I.N.G.”
Quint Lawson and Annie Weber heard that childhood song over and over and it never bothered them. Even though Quint was only five, Annie wasn’t just his neighbor. She would become his best friend and the love of his life. Annie wasn’t interested in dolls, or girly things when growing up. A tomboy at heart, having a boy as a best friend suited her just fine. That same boy captured her heart.
Quint had two passions, his girl and baseball. From kindergarten to college, Quint tore up every baseball diamond he played on. His position was shortstop. His talent was undeniable. Professional ball was most definitely in his future, and he was ready for it. Annie would be right by his side.
When everything in life is perfect, it’s hard to imagine heartbreak in any form. Quint wasn’t immune to its power. This shortstop had no idea what any form of heartbreak could do to his perfect world. When it hit, there were many casualties left in its wake…the most important one was Annie.
Can a person be prepared for, understand, or even endure a misfortune if they’ve never experienced one before? In Quint Lawson’s case the answer is no.
I’m not quite sure why I went after this ARC….probably because I love sports and friends to lovers stories and I had read one of A.M. Madden’s previous books and I liked it well enough. I wasn’t particularly excited about starting this one but I made a commitment to review and I was going to stick to that. Turns out I should have been REALLY FREAKIN’ EXCITED to be reading this book. I should have been freaking GIDDY that someone was letting me read this book. The book hangover from this one has lasted all week. I’m a damn blogger and I haven’t read a book ALL WEEK because The Shortstop just fulfilled every single thing I need a book to fulfill. It was so damn good.
The first half of the book was sweet in all the best ‘friends to lovers’, ‘high school sweethearts’, ‘next door neighbors’ kind of ways. Annie and Quint are adorable and good to each other. They are likable characters and clearly in love with their future all mapped out for them. What I loved about the first half of this book was as great as their story was….I just felt this tension while I was reading it…not between the characters…but in my gut I felt like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and I KNEW the shoe was going to drop. That tension is the kind of thing that makes a book great for me. I was scared to death for them (yep…for fictional characters) and that’s why I read books…to FEEL that fear…to know something is coming and to dread and crave it all at the same time.
Just to prove my point….this is what my FB post looked like while I was reading:
Want to hear the best part? When that shoe dropped….it was nothing like what I expected…NOTHING. Not only that…it seemed like nothing I had ever read before. I read tons of sports romances and this one had something NEW. My God do I love being surprised by a book. And then this book got painful. For me it was ugly cry, actual pain in my chest, sobbing, angry oh please no kind of crying. Actually…I still cry when I think about. I finished this book a week ago and I’m crying while I write this review because parts of this book will just rip your heart out.
It got more painful. I was thinking about this analogy the other day…it was like A.M. Madden ripped my heart out and then, just when I thought she was done…she threw it on the floor and stomped the hell out of it. The good news? She did eventually pick up all the little pieces, put them back together in the most beautiful way and give it back to me…..and somehow managed to leave me sobbing with joy and grateful for the experience.
Quint is a beautiful boy with such a good heart. You will love him, you will root for him, you will adore his sappy romantic side and the care with which he loves and protects Annie. He is every bit a boy who fell in love at 5 years old and never fell out. But you will hate him and you will be so damn angry with him and you will want to simultaneously beat the hell out of him and hold him.
Annie is sweet, almost too sweet. She is supportive and loving and totally willing to stand on the sidelines to root for her man, She is every bit the girl who fell in love at 5 years old and never fell out. But she can be her own kind of frustrating, the kind where you just want to yell please Annie, have an opinion, stand up for yourself, stop being so meek. You’ll love her, but you’ll want to take her and shake her too. I don’t want to spoil anything…but let me just say a great character evolution absolutely rocks. And Annie’s is one of the best character evolutions, like top three I’ve ever read for a female character. Yep…that good.
I read a lot of books…A LOT of them. Some I wish I hadn’t wasted my time on, some were OK, some I’m really freaking happy I got to read….but this book…THIS book I’m GRATEFUL that I got to read it. Absolutely grateful for the experience of this book and for me…that puts it in a very elite group.