Title: The One and Only
Author: Emily Giffin
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Length: 432 pages
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From: An ARC from BookSparks/Summer Reading Challenge 2014
Plot Basics: Shea Risby lives in a southern Texas town that worships their local college – Walker. The fascination is more than that of a fan — Shea is the best friend of Coach Carr’s daughter Lucy. The death of Mrs. Carr shakes up the team, the town and the relationships between Lucy, Coach and Shea. The team and the town have lost a beloved leader. Shea, Lucy and Coach lost the person that maintained the relationship between them, leaving a new one to be formed.
Banter Points: Twenty or thirty pages into this book, I thought I knew where the book was headed. I was disappointed by the obvious love interest, albeit one-sided, from Shea. Her intimate knowledge of Walker football made it inevitable that she was going to fall infatuation with Coach Carr. Bummer, I thought. I was hoping for something else.
I’m glad I did.
Shea’s life isn’t so straightforward as it first appeared. Yes, she has a crush on Coach Carr and it’s one of the strong story lines but it’s more than just that. Shea is really adrift in her world, floating along doing what is easy and not necessarily what makes her happy. Giffin pulls the reader into the story and Shea’s attempts to make herself happy. Along the way, I stopped thinking about how I’d never make the kind of decisions that Shea did, and started to realize why she did make them. That’s the thing I like best about Giffin’s novels: she ability to make you see things from the character’s point of view.
Bummer Points: There were too many characters and/or situations that seemed like they were pulled from a writing prompt book. For example, when the story opens Shea is dating Miller, a guy so obviously not good enough for her, it’s hard to believe that they were dating for any reason other than she needed to have a break-up. Or Lucy’s disdain for football. While I struggle with the obsession that is football in southern Texas, I get that it is like that. Lucy is the coach’s daughter. Her incredible lack of knowledge and understanding seemed like a required plot twist than something that is actually plausible. (Keep in mind, please, that I live a mere 56 miles from the hallowed ground that is Lambeau field and am NOT a football fan. Even I know more about the Packers than Lucy did about the Walker Broncos.) Giffin had a bunch of non-related events and didn’t always pull them together in a way that was believable.
Stacie’s Recommendation: I’d recommend it in the right situation. In fact, I have a coworker who this may be perfect for.