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The Immortal Rules
Julie Kagawa
J. Lynn, Jennifer L. Armentrout
Diamonds in the Rough
Portia Da Costa
Hooked - Liz Fichera There were so many things I liked about this debut novel from Liz Fichera. It really tackles some heavy themes of prejudice, bullying, racism, and peer pressure to name a few, and the book handles these with equal measure of horror and hope.Fred Oday is a young Native American woman with athletic prowess. She’s honed her golf skills for most of her life, and when she is offered a spot on the boys high school golf team, she decides to take it. She struggles a bit with her decision, knowing it won’t be easy, but she doesn’t let her fear defeat her, even though the rest of the team is upper crust and seemingly perfect. You can’t help but cheer for her as she drags around her old, second hand, ugly golf bag and plays without a decent pair of golf shoes. She loves the game, and that’s what matters.Ryan Berenger is one of the rich white boys on the team. When his best friend loses his spot on the team to Fred, he’s caught in a situation that has him questioning his own behavior. Should he be loyal to his friend and give Fred a hard time, or does he act on the feelings he starts to develop for this talented athlete from outside of his circle? When Ryan makes his choice, he starts a series of situations that will challenge them both.And then there is Seth, Ryan’s best friend. When his jealousy, anger a over losing his spot on the team gets the best of him, his racism and hate brings about some very serious and deadly consequences for Ryan and Fred. I can’t tell you when I disliked a character more and yet I also know that there are many people just like Seth in this world and the high school environment.I loved the Native American aspects in this book and that Fred honored her heritage in many ways, especially as a coping mechanism when things got rough. I loved that she felt self-empowered to join this golf team, in spite of how difficult she knew it would be. I loved that she saw her skills as a means of being the first on the reservation to go to college. I really loved Fred. She wasn’t perfect, but she acted with integrity. Ryan was a little more complicated. It takes him some time to get things sorted out, and I thought that was very authentic. His path to self-discovery was much more difficult than Fred’s, and by the end of the book I still wasn't convinced he had it together.The romantic part of the story was believable and engaging. One of my favorite scenes in the book occurs the Monday after Fred and Ryan have their first date. She’s unsure, wondering how what transpired between them would change her life. I don’t want to say how it all turns out, but I thought this scene really captured the high school experience. It’s touching, sweet and very poignant.So why isn’t this a 5 star review? I did have a problem with the ending. At close to the end of the book, a crisis with Fred’s father sets up some situations that provides convenient means for Fred and Ryan to get over their relationship issues. Ryan’s involvement seems very contrived to me, especially since I don’t recall the contributing details mentioned earlier in the book. Everything gets wrapped up after that point and it just seems abrupt and it took me out of the moment. I would have liked to have more discussion regarding both Seth and Ryan's behavior in regard to bullying and racism. This ending seemed like an easy way around those hard topics.So overall, I did enjoy the story, apart from the way it ended.Contains: violence, alcohol use, kissing.Thank you Netgalley and Harlequinn Teen for a review copy in exchange for honest feedback.