Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: football, blended families
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley! (Thanks!)
Summary: When Derek gets kicked out of school, his uber-young stepmom, Brandi, makes him move back to her family’s home in Chicago. Derek begrudingly tags along, only to discover that Brandi has a sister around the same age as him. Dressed to the nines one moment and pumped up to be the high school team’s newest football captain the next, Derek cannot stop thinking about Ashtyn. And while Ashtyn should be celebrating her new title, she’s dealing with pranks, an unsupportive boyfriend, unhappy family dynamics, and Derek.
It’s fall, it’s football season, and Wild Cards was a perfect time, perfect place read for me.
Derek is that classic bad boy with a good heart. (I swear! His relationship with step-brother Julian is super adorable.) He’s expecting the worst when he moves from sunny California to Chicago, thrown into one of the unhappiest family reunions he’s ever seen. The tension between his step-mom, Brandi, and her dad is no match for the tension between Derek and Brandi’s sister, Ashtyn though.
From the get-go, Ashtyn doesn’t want anything to do with Derek and makes it crystal clear that she is taken. Derek doesn’t want to get involved either but he absolutely cannot stop thinking about her. The push and pull between them is so good, so good that I read this book in one sitting practically. (Okay, one night but I changed locations of where I was reading.)
I loved Ashtyn’s drive to propel her football career (she should be pals with Jordan from Catching Jordan), and how she was so into the sport in the first place because of her dad. Derek’s secret (that slowly reveals itself as the book goes on) involves a wealthy grandmother from Texas who wants to be a part of his life after a long absence. Was she a piece of work! Funny, snarky, and such a breath of fresh air in Wild Cards. I wish she had been introduced so much earlier. (In my head, I’ve already cast Elaine Stritch in this role. She’s a Broadway legend but you may know her as Jack’s mom on 30 Rock.)
It’s true Wild Cards could have gone deeper into Ashtyn’s (prickly) relationships with her dad and sister, better balancing these other conflicts with the romance but even so, I really enjoyed this book. It was fun, sexy, a little bit mysterious, and a great way to spend an evening.
Want more? Elkeles has been filming her own Wild Cards series!