Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Review Source: Netgalley
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Life loves a good curveball…
Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas's life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she's living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals' super-hot rookie pitcher.
But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.
But baseball isn't just a game. It's life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…
When I first heard the concept of Whatever Life Throws at You I was excited to read it. Then I kept hearing more and more good things about this book, with phrases like “must read” attached to it. Even with all that, this book did not at all disappoint. In fact, I was more impressed with it than I even anticipated. Basically, this is a total ME book, and if you’re at all a fan of books that contain swoony sweet romances and a great family dynamic, then I’m sure it will be a YOU type of book as well.
It’s hard to say what I think this book does best, because it does so many things right. What really stands out to me, though, is the great family dynamic. The relationship between Annie and her father is so sweet and caring. There’s also the relationship (or lack thereof) between Annie and her mother, which is dealt with in an interesting way. Annie’s mother is such a poisonous presence, and I was fascinated with how Annie's parents interacted with one another. I think it really shows how you can do dumb things in the name of love whether you’re a teen or completely grown adult.
On the romance end of things, the relationship between Annie and Brody is incredibly sweet as well. You completely understand why she falls for him as they begin as friends, but you’re also leery about how it will work out, considering all the rumours surrounding Brody. Because Brody is pitched as the love interest it’s almost certain that a lot of those rumours are false, but you wonder what part of the picture you’re missing. There’s also a bit of a taboo aspect to their relationship, considering Annie’s dad is Brody’s coach, and Annie is still in high school. There’s less than two years between Annie and Brody, but their situations make the relationship difficult.
I’m not at all a baseball fan, but I think Julie Cross has done a great job of getting readers to dive right into the sport. You don’t have to care about, or even know much about, baseball to find yourself rooting for Brody and his team, the Kansas City Royals. This sports aspect is just another great part of the book, and another reason why Annie and Brody work so well together. Annie is a cross country runner, so she understands the role that baseball plays in Brody’s life. Both of them really value their sports and prioritize them.
To put it simply, Whatever Life Throws at You is a wonderful book. It’s a family story, it’s a romance, it’s a Young Adult novel with some borderline New Adult themes (Brody starting his career, Annie thinking about post-high school plans, etc). I loved this story and how it made me feel. When I was reading it I wanted to keep on reading, and when I was finished I was excited about the prospect of reading it all over again.
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EXCERPT from Whatever Life Throws at You:
He eyes me skeptically. “What kind of article?”
“It’s for Sports Illustrated,” I say without hesitation and then quickly realize that I don’t look nearly old enough to be a real reporter for a huge publication. “I’m an intern,” I add.
The skepticism falls from his face and he looks nervous, which gives me a boost of confidence. I walk closer and pull out the chair in front of the locker beside his, propping my feet up on the bench across from me. “Frank Steadman said you’d be willing to answer a few questions.”
His mouth falls open, and he looks down at his towel and then back at me. Water drips from his hair and off his dark shoulders. “Um…okay,” he says. “Mind if I get dressed first?”
I wave off his concerns, my face heating up, blowing my confident cover. But him getting dressed might allow enough time for Dad to return, and I’d rather not have to deal with that. I duck my head down, letting my hair hide my cheeks and flip open the first page of the notebook. “This will just take a minute… So, you’re nineteen? And you’re from Texas?”
“Chicago,” he corrects.
I had no idea where he was from but figured it sounded better if I pretended to know. I write down this information and then search my brain for some more questions. “Does the wind in Chicago affect your curveball? Do you throw into it or against it?”
He gives me a funny look. “I…well…I just throw toward home plate.”
My face gets even hotter. “Right, kidding. What’s your favorite color?”
I take my time writing orange in really big loopy cursive while I think of my next question. “What are your opinions on sushi?”
His forehead wrinkles like I’ve just asked him to publicly declare a political party. “Raw fish and seaweed? I think it’s best eaten while stranded on a desert island with no other options.”
“Very diplomatic.” I scribble down his answer. “How many strikes have you thrown in your career?”
“Don’t know,” he says. “Do people actually count that stuff? Before the majors?”
“Some of them do,” I say, though I have no idea. “If you could be any magical creature in the Harry Potter series, which would you choose?”
“You said this is for Sports Illustrated, right?”
“Yeees, But it’s the…kids’ edition.”
“Oh, right.” He scratches the back of his head. “I guess maybe one of those elves.”
“A house elf? Seriously? They’re slaves.” I shake my head. “Why would you want to be an enslaved elf? They can’t even wear clothes.”
He grips his towel tighter and releases a frustrated breath. “Fine, I’ll choose an owl. That’s what I’d want to be.”
I snort back a laugh and drop my eyes to the page again.
“What? What the hell’s wrong with being an owl? They’re smart, they know geography and shit like that.”
“Owls in real life are actually pretty stupid. But no big deal, I’ll just relay that message on to the children of America. Jason Brody, temporary Royals pitcher, wants to be an owl when he grows up because they know geography and shit like that.”
Okay, I’m getting way too into this fake reporter role.
“Who says this is temporary?” he snaps.
“Your two-way contract.” Isn’t that how Dad explained it? He plays a few games then goes back to Triple-A, all without signing a real major league contract.
He yanks a pair of jeans from his locker and then grabs a bundled up orange T-shirt. “Well, I plan on kicking some ass on Opening Day and making this a permanent gig.”
“I think you need a reality check,” I say. “One game isn’t going to be enough--”
“Annie, what the hell are you doing?”
I leap off the bench and turn around to face Dad and Frank standing about five feet from me. “Introducing myself to your new pitcher.”
“Brody, what are you doing here, son?” Frank asks. “We’re off today.”
“Just getting in some cardio and weights.” His gaze darts from me to Dad to Frank. “I was just finishing up this interview for Sports Illustrated. The kids’ edition.”
“Well, we won’t keep you from getting your clothes back on, then,” Frank says, like he’s trying not to laugh. “And just for future reference, all interviews will go through the team’s publicity department so no one will be wandering in here, surprising you. Savannah will meet with you tomorrow to discuss publicity.”
Dad moves forward and extends a hand to Jason Brody. “Jim Lucas, nice to meet you, son. I’ve seen your spring training videos. You’ve got some real talent. I’m looking forward to working with you.”
Brody shakes Dad’s hand, his eyes still on me.
“And this is my daughter Annie,” Dad adds.
Brody glares at me. “Let me guess—you don’t work for Sports Illustrated?”
Julie Cross lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast and longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former gymnastics program WHATEVER LIFE THROWS AT YOUctor with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres. Outside of her reading and writing credentials, Julie is a committed—but not talented—long-distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar-weather survivor, and expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym-shoe addict.
Where to find Julie:
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