Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Book Review: The One & Only

Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.

But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.

Thoughtful, funny, and brilliantly observed, The One & Only is a luminous novel about finding your passion, following your heart, and, most of all, believing in something bigger than yourself . . . the one and only thing that truly makes life worth living. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Amy Bromberg:

I have to admit that I have a huge author crush on Emily Giffin. I met her two years ago at a Barnes and Noble in New York City, for her Where We Belong tour, and I went a little gaga. Therefore I always get excited when she has a new book coming out. I'm assuming many of you feel the same way.

Unfortunately, I basically have no interest in football (okay I'm not a sports person at all), so it was little difficult for me to get into the story. However, once I got past this minor issue I thoroughly enjoyed it. The setting is a college football town, and Shea's life revolves around the team and the coach, Clive Carr. On top of this she's best friends with his daughter, Lucy, whose mother, Connie, is like another mother to Shea, and is Shea's mother's best friend. Talk about a mouthful, right? But these relationships and characters make the story that much more juicy and enticing.

As always Emily's books flow beautifully and entertain, and the characters she develops are multi-dimensional. Shea is without a doubt one of these types of characters. She's struggling in her career, in
her love life, and in her family relationships. While I don't agree with some of the choices she made, I was rooting for her and was hoping she would find some insight and clarity in her life. Readers should be warned that there are some delicate subject matters that not everyone will be comfortable with. But sometimes reading about a subject matter that you might not be at ease with is a good thing. It makes you think about other points of view on the subject matter and realize that not everything is always black and white.

The One & Only is a light-hearted story that explores love, friendship and loyalty. Definitely add it to your summer reads list!

Melissa Amster:

Back in the year 2000, I was out with my parents and sister and they wanted to see Remember the Titans. I was hesitant to see it because it was a "football movie." (I'm not into football AT ALL.) However, I ended up loving it and crying through the end. When we got back to my sister's apartment, she was e-mailing with my gay best friend and told him we saw Remember the Titans. He replied back with "Melissa saw a FOOTBALL movie?!?" Needless to say, when he saw that I read The One & Only and looked at the synopsis, he commented on Facebook reminding me about when I saw Remember the Titans. Although that movie and this story only have football in common, both were very easy to get into and enjoy the entire way through.

In regards to The One & Only being labeled as a "football book," I was recently discussing with other chick lit readers and they thought the book was too heavy on the football talk and didn't have enough chick lit elements. I disagreed with this after finishing the story. Sure, there are a lot of football references, but I didn't feel overwhelmed by this or that they took away from the heart of the story. Shea's love for and obsession with football reminds me of my love for chick lit. It also reminded me of how I am with movie trivia. Shea's party trick may be knowing who won each football championship and the year it happened, whereas my party trick is telling you what year a movie came out and which actors were in that movie, which branches out into what other movies each actor is in. My movie knowledge probably doesn't hold a candle to her football knowledge, but I could definitely relate to her in terms of knowledge and obsession.

The story was very well-written and characters seemed to leap off the page. I kept forgetting that I was actually reading a book. The emotions Shea was feeling felt genuine in regards to the situations she was placed in at various points in the story. She was just a very likable character and I felt like I knew her really well by the time I turned the last page. The dialogue was fabulous throughout and it was like listening into real conversations, almost like eavesdropping. There were also some laugh-out-loud moments that I did not see coming.

However, I felt like the synopsis was misleading. I don't want to say why as to not spoil things, but I felt like I was waiting for something to happen that didn't actually end up happening. Two other things threw me off a bit, as well. One was that Lucy would call her father "daddy," as that never seems to jive with me when it comes from an adult. The other is that Frank Smiley's name made me think that he was happy all the time. I couldn't mesh his name with his personality.

Overall, The One & Only was a strong story and while it had things that other people didn't agree with, those things didn't bother me as much. I'm always glad to discuss it with anyone who is interested!

And since it would be great on-screen, I came up with a cast...
Shea: Cobie Smulders
Lucy: Judy Greer
Coach Carr: Patrick Warburton
Shea's mom: Connie Britton
Ryan: Chris Hemsworth
Miller: Ashton Kutcher

Thanks to Random House and BookSparks PR for the books in exchange for an honest review.

More by Emily Giffin:


Jennifer Huelsebusch said...

I just finished The One and Only as well. I met Emily a couple of weeks ago in St. Louis and hearing the story behind the book made it that much better! I am a huge sports fan and love football and thought it was a perfect balance in the book. I do agree with you about Shea's relationship and that it is always good to see the other perspective.

Unknown said...

I honestly think that I'm just gonna skip this book as well as others of hers like Love The One Your With, The Heart of the Matter, and Baby Proof! I just can't root for a female character who is madly in love with her best friend's football coach....that is just too gross!