Off Pitch: A Review
I almost quit Off Pitch three times. This reads like a bad YA novel. It reads like a YA novel that was written by someone who doesn’t have a good opinion of the intelligence of young adults. In fact, if it wasn’t for the graphic nature of the sex, I’d have this re-cataloged as a YA novel at work, at least then the overwrought nature of the main character wouldn’t be surprising.
A basic, non-spoiler, summary is going to be very difficult. A soccer star, Adeline, and a Spanish cello prodigy, Gabriela, fall in love, in between many different conflicts, from initial reluctance, to family drama, to not-quite-money issues, to jealousy, to two sort of break ups, that come up to replace anything like narrative. There are really too many conflicts that happen and they are not well-handled enough for this book to have a cohesive narrative.
The writing is not the worst I’ve ever read, but I would call the style the “and then” style: Sentences that don’t always make sense when they follow each other and then a new plot point, and then a new topic, and then a moment of drama. To top that off, Adeline is a deeply unlikeable character. She’s self-centered, reactionary, and never actually has to deal with any consequences. She’s impulsive in a way that most adults have outgrown. Maybe she’s an accurately portrayed 21 year-old and I just don’t remember that age well, but I didn’t enjoy anything about her. Her not having to deal with consequences has more to do with the author bringing in conflict only to instantly resolve it or leave it needlessly unresolved.
Any time something goes even slightly wrong for Adeline, or she reacts to something without actually getting all the information, Adeline is framed as the victim of the situation. Even when Gabriela clearly has a stalker, who uses his position to harass her, it turns out the important thing is that Adeline feels hurt.
‘Um...yes. I’m afraid he’s developed a bit of a crush on me. He asked me out the other day. I don’t think he’s taking the rejection very well,’ she said sheepishly.
‘I know the feeling,” I grumbled at the floor.
‘Hey,” Gabby said, tilting my chin up to look me in the face. ‘I’m really sorry about what I put you through. It was wrong of me, but I promise it won’t happen again.’
I am a very fast reader, it took me days to get through this larger print 255 page book. I wouldn’t say it was a pacing issue so much as that I kept having to walk away from the book every fifty pages for some deep breathing.
In case you were wondering if the sex made up for this I’ll just leave you with these lines right here:
I pushed my finger inside her without any ado, and it was her turn to cry out. I took a gentler approach to shushing her, and pressed a firm kiss to her lips as I began to piston in and out of her. Her wetness filled me with the desire to make her feel beyond anything she had ever known.
The sex is the most competently written stuff in the book, but I legit had to go back to see if a strap-no had appeared and I missed it while skimming. One had not.
The author did just enough research into every aspect of the book to get some things right, but there are consistent inaccuracies. Adeline starts the book as a center mid but is clearly written as a forward. The names of NWSL teams are correct, but it's never mentioned that the NWSL has a college draft for players graduating from NCAA play. It's acknowledged that a Stradivarius is a very famous and impressive instrument, but the text never points out how expensive one is. I’m not even going to touch on Adeline getting a degree in biomechanical engineering.
Overall this was very frustrating to read. The sentences are choppy and unpolished. The narrative is all over the place. The characters are either unlikable or too passive. There were several moments I found offensive, such as Gabriela being harassed, g-slur and "Nazi" being used casually, and Gabriela being forced kissed at one point and it being Adeline who was framed as the victim.
If you want to know more about what happens in this book and my reactions/thoughts about them, keep reading.
SPOILER SUMMARY BELOW
I’m going to just list off events and commentary in, hopefully, the correct order, because there is no good way to summarize the plot, but to really get an understanding of Off Pitch, you need to know all the conflict packed into it:
Jessica and Adeline play soccer and live together. They are the best of friends. Both are not very likable people.
Adeline has to take Spanish. Her TA is super hot and named Gabriela. Gabriela is from Spain.
Adeline is named captain. Jessica makes a Nazi joke. No one understands, the author most of all, what a captain does.
Adeline is super good at soccer.
Adeline and Gabriela kiss. Gabriela freaks out about it. You never find out why.
Adeline is super good at school except for Spanish and can’t talk to Gabriela because she’s attracted to her and she is apparently in middle school.
Oh wait no, Adeline turns 21 and for reasons of quirkiness wears an inflatable dinosaur costume to a bar where she drinks enough that she would have been taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning irl.
Instead, Gabriela is at the same gay bar and she takes Adeline home with her to take care of her while Adeline is drunk.
Gabriela abuses her position to get Adeline’s address and shows up with Adeline’s Spanish book that she left in her office. They kiss again and Gabriela freaks out again.
Jessica tells Adeline that she needs to confront Gabriela.
Adeline corners Gabriela during her office hours.
Gabriela tells her she can’t date her. Again, no reason is given.
Adeline throws a tantrum and stays home. There are several of these, I lost track of where they all were
Gabriela shows up at her apartment and then stays the night and then they are dating.
Adeline invites Gabriela home for Thanksgiving. She doesn’t tell her homophobic parents she is bringing her girlfriend home with her and doesn’t tell her girlfriend that her parents are homophobic.
Her parents are mega rich.
Adeline yells at her parents because they want Gabriela to sleep in the guest room.
Adeline’s parents prove they are one dimensional and evil by sitting Adeline down and telling her to stop being a lesbian because it will hurt her career.
The author proves that she doesn’t research by having Adeline yell in response that the Orlando Pride is named after LGBTQIA pride. They aren’t. They’re lionesses. Also, their rainbow seats are for the 49 people shot at Pulse, but no, totally about LGBTQIA pride in this narrative. Women’s sports are one of the less homophobic career environments, all I’m saying is, there are better arguments.
Her dad throws them out/Adeline drags Gabriela away. It is implied her relationship with her parents is forever sundered.
Oh yeah, Adeline has a brother. They have like three moments together and then he disappears, despite the author implying that the kid is being emotionally abused. He is the most sympathetic character in the book and I wanted him to get resolution more than anyone else.
Gabriela stays with Adeline until Jessica gets home and then she peaces out despite Adeline still being completely emotionally wrecked.
Adeline goes to the bank to see if her parents have cut her off.
Bank dude tells her she can only withdraw $10,000.00 from the joint account because her parents set it up that way. The author shows her lack of research again by having the character ask how often she can make that withdraw and then cutting away without an answer.
It is implied she withdraws that amount and puts it into a new non-joint account and that that is all the money she will be able to rely on for the rest of school, but again, who knows, it’s never addressed later.
Adeline is great at soccer you guys.
Gabriela kisses her.
A dude that Gabriela turned down takes a picture of it and then publishes it on the cover of the school newspaper out of spite.
It is a scandal, except that the bi-laws of the college say TAs and students can date as long as the TA isn’t grading the student's work.
For some reason it is still a big scandal for a few pages and then never mentioned again. Potentially because there are about two weeks left in the semester.
Turns out Gabriela is a cello prodigy. Adeline goes to watch her play.
Adeline gets injured during a game. She throws the biggest, most immature, hissy fit. Her coach has to threaten to bench her forever before she’ll leave the game. Once again, she’s the captain.
Gabriela gets invited to play with the Chicago Symphony under contract.
Gabriela invites Adeline to her parents house for Christmas.
At a different bar the guy who took the first picture of them kissing takes another. Gabriela challenges him to a sing off.
This is the first time I literally threw the book.
This is the dude who has been harassing Gabriela, showing up during her office hours, and has multiple pictures of her on his phone without her permission.
If the dude wins Gabriela will go on a date with him. If Gabriela wins he will delete the picture of them kissing and leave them alone.
Gabriela is a prodigy on guitar. She sings Creep and wins. It is the sexiest thing Adeline has seen. I’m not sure the author has ever heard Radiohead.
Gabriela’s parents are the opposite of Adeline’s parents.
Gabriela is actually Gitanos, or Romani in Spain. The author uses the g-slur. Put the book down for the day. Starting skimming from here on out.
Out of nowhere everyone is a hardcore D&D player.
Adeline was clearly not cut off by her parents as she buys Gabriela a Stradivarius cello for Christmas. They’ve been dating just over a month. The author has no idea how much a Stradivarius costs.
Adeline thinks that she’ll have to live off ramen for the rest of the semester. This is instantly forgotten.
They order Chinese food in the next scene.
Jessica is angry that Adeline spent time with Gabriela over Christmas and not with Jessica.
The author skims over Spring semester and the summer much like I did the ending of this book.
Adeline is amazing at soccer. Two teams’ representatives walk up to her after her team wins the big game to express interest. One of the is the Orlando Pride because of course it is.
Jessica claims she is Adeline’s agent. Her course of study is never mentioned but I sure hope it’s Sport Management.
Gabriela plays a lot with the Chicago Symphony. Adeline watches her play. They are definitely in love.
Gabriela’s ex joins the Chicago Symphony. Gabriela’s ex kisses Gabriela. Adeline sees it and reacts.
Adeline pulls a Bella from Twilight. Stays at home, doesn’t go to school, barely eats, doesn’t shower, etc.
Adeline doesn’t break up with Gabriela but refuses to talk to her or see her.
Jessica forces her to talk to Gabriela.
A kiss is forced on Gabriela.
Adeline claims to be the victim.
I threw the book again.
They get back together. I whispered, Run, Gabriela, run.
Adeline buys Gabriela and her parents a vacation for Christmas. The author has completely forgotten the drama of the first half of the book.
Gabriela tells Adeline that she has been offered and is taking a job in Barcelona.
They break up again.
Jessica gets Adeline a contract with FC Barcelona.
Adeline buys a house. Clearly she still has her parents’ money, so.
Adeline surprises Gabriela in Spain in that inflatable dinosaur costume because romance and asks her to move in with her.