THE HARPER EFFECT
By: Taryn Bashford
Published By: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: May 15, 2018
Reading Level: Young Adult
Buy the Book: Amazon
Goodreads Summary: Sixteen-year-old Harper was once a rising star on the tennis court--until her coach dropped her for being "mentally weak." Without tennis, who is she? Her confidence at an all-time low, she secretly turns to her childhood friend, next-door neighbor Jacob--who also happens to be her sister's very recent ex-boyfriend. If her sister finds out, it will mean a family war.
But when Harper is taken on by a new coach who wants her to train with Colt, a cold, defensive, brooding young tennis phenom, she hits the court all the harder, if only to prove Colt wrong. But as the two learn to become a team, Harper gets glimpses of the vulnerable boy beneath the surface, the boy who was deeply scarred by his family's dark and scandalous past. The boy she could easily find herself falling for.
As she walks a fine line between Colt's secrets, her forbidden love, and a game that demands nothing but the best, Harper must decide between her past and her future and between two boys who send her head spinning. Is the cost of winning the game worth losing everything?
A sizzling tennis romance perfect for the summer months, The Harper Effect, will be a grand slam for fans of Kasie West, Miranda Kinneally and Simone Ekeles.
First Thought After Finishing - I knew there was a reason I always loved the color purple!
After reading Miranda Kenneally’s books, I’m a sucker for sporty contemporary romances. I was never a sports person, so the vicarious experience (plus the passion these characters have) are definite draws to these stories.
Harper Hunter dreams of being a tennis champion, but she can’t seem to make it past the first round in any competitions. Saddened by defeat and dumped by her tennis coach, Harper is almost ready to give up on her dreams. Enter Milo, a new coach, and Colt, a new doubles partner. Soon Harper finds herself training harder than ever but also trying to discover Colt’s secrets. On top of it all, her childhood friendship group may be falling apart. Her sister is distant, but she might finally have a chance with the boy she’s loved for years. Can Harper juggle everything without letting her game—or her heart—suffer?
I love reading comeback stories. There’s something inspiring about rooting for an underdog and trying to channel their motivation. I’ve never really followed tennis, but this book makes it seem like an exciting sport—different from the team sports with its individual battle, but in some ways this makes it more relatable. Even without sports in my life, Harper’s emotional journey resonated with me. This book is about much more than sports or even first loves; it’s about the inevitable changes that come in life and how we can either struggle against them or choose to grow with them. Harper may not have had a smooth path, but it was all the more real for that reason.
This book also explores different types of relationships—what family and friendship can look like, and also what they shouldn’t look like. I loved that Harper’s parents were so involved, and I especially enjoyed seeing her relationship with her coach develop. Milo certainly had some good advice that can be applied far beyond the tennis world. As for Harper's romantic relationships, this isn't your typical love triangle. Jacob is her childhood best friend; he has her memories, and there is something gratifying about having a chance with your first love. ON the other hand, Colt is her mixed doubles partner. He is withdrawn, moody, and secretive, but there is no denying an electric connection both on and off the court. For me, there was only one choice, only one guy who I wanted to learn everything about and wrap in a hug when I finally did.
Throughout the book, the characters rarely make the best decisions; in fact, as an adult reading this book, there were times I wanted to shake sense into the characters who were, from my perspective, insensitive and foolish. However, as a teenager, these choices may not have always seemed so clear. As teenagers, we all make mistakes. The important thing is how we react to and learn from them. Harper's story shows this process and how we all have to face up to consequences for bad judgement. Navigating teenage years can be difficult, and accepting change can certainly be scary at any age. Reading someone else's story--even a fictional one--gives hope that something good can come even out of bad decisions if only people are willing to learn and grow.
Most Memorable Aspect: Harper and Colt's dedication to tennis.
Taryn’s been an English Literature Honours student, an advertising sales rep and a CEO of an internet company, but writing is her first love. The Harper Effect is her debut novel.
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