The Hard Count by Ginger Scott
Publication Date: July 15th 2016
Rating: 5 Stars
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sport – American Football
Find: Goodreads | Amazon
Nico Medina’s world is eleven miles away from mine. During the day, it’s a place where doors are open—where homes are lived in, and neighbors love. But when the sun sets, it becomes a place where young boys are afraid, where eyes watch from idling cars that hide in the shadows and wicked smoke flows from pipes.
West End is the kind of place that people survive. It buries them—one at a time, one way or another. And when Nico was a little boy, his mom always told him to run.
I’m Reagan Prescott—coach’s daughter, sister to the prodigal son, daughter in the perfect family.
Life on top.
My world is the ugly one. Private school politics and one of the best high school football programs in the country can break even the toughest souls. Our darkness plays out in whispers and rumors, and money and status trump all. I would know—I’ve watched it kill my family slowly, strangling us for years.
In our twisted world, a boy from West End is the only shining light.
I hated him before I needed him.
I fell for him fast.
I loved him when it was almost too late.
When two ugly worlds collide, even the strongest fall. But my world…it hasn’t met the boy from West End.
This is what a sports contemporary book should be like. As fun as they are, sometimes the hilariously sexy NA sports contemporaries can get a bit repetitive. There are plenty of angles that can be explored through sport and The Hard Count does an incredible job at exploring these dynamics.
Family is a big theme in this book. In the Prescott household, football is central. Reagan’s father is the schools coach and her brother is the star quarterback, that is, until an injury takes him out of the picture. On the surface, the Prescott family seem to have it all. However, beneath the surface is a family full of conflict both internally and externally. Reagan’s story focuses on how football can bring a family together and tare it apart. With her brother sidelined from the team, her dad dealing with the expectations of the community and heat from staff members competing for his job, and her mum struggling to keep up the happy family facade, this family is on the brink of collapse. At the heart of these conflicts is football but it is also the very thing that can bring them together again. The dynamic between this family was fascinating and authentic. The tensions that arise weren’t overly dramatic and underneath the conflict, there’s still that strong sense of love between them. I loved exploring the nature of this family dynamic.
Further contributing to this family tension is Nico Medina. Nico has faced a lot of hardships in his youth. Coming from a rough neighborhood with an absent dad and a brother oversea, Nico has had to grow up before his time in order to support his family. Nico also faces a lot of social judgment; based on his skin colour and social circumstances. Ginger Scott does a great job at highlighting the social divisions within the book and drives home how ones social status and the colour of their skin does not define their capabilities. Nico defies the odds. With the team and the community standing against the choice to make him the new quarterback, Nico fights to prove to everyone that he deserves to be there. Nico is such a lovable character. He’s not one to shy away from expressing his thoughts and feelings and challenges those that look to use his social circumstances against him. His love for football seeps through the pages. You could feel his passion and enthusiasm for the game. He is also loyal to those he loves and the dynamic between his and Reagan’s families were a complete contrast to one another, highlighting the fact that while the Medina’s might not be rich in money, they are rich in love. Naturally Reagan and Nico strike up wonderful romance that naturally developed over the course of the book which was heartwarming to witness. Reagan was also an incredible character to follow. Like Nico, she’s not one to shy away from sharing her thoughts on certain things but she also showed moments of vulnerability that made her easy to relate to.
The Hard Count is an incredible story that focuses on family, friendship, social divisions, racial tensions, a sense of brotherhood and the way football can bring people together just as easy as it can tare them apart. I urge every single one of you to pick up the Hard Count.