ARC review: Fraternize by Rachel Van Dyken

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Growing up, Emerson and Miller were inseparable best friends.  As they got older, Miller joined the football team and Emerson became a cheerleader.  Feelings developed between the two of them, and Emerson ended up losing her virginity to Miller just before he moved away, never to be seen (or heard from) again.  Years later, the two are surprisingly reunited as Miller is drafted by the Bellevue Bucks in the same season that Emerson joins their cheerleading squad.  Can they repair their relationship, or will a new player win Emerson’s heart?

Rachel Van Dyken is one of those authors that I’d always meant to read but had never quite gotten around to.  I requested a copy of Fraternize from Netgalley weeks ago and had pretty much given up hope of being approved when I unexpectedly got the approval email.  Seeing how the book comes out in about two weeks, I immediately jumped in and started reading.

I can see why Van Dyken is such a popular author. She’s definitely got a way with words.  Her characters felt real.  Her dialogue felt natural.  I empathized so much with Emerson and her struggles as a plus-size cheerleader, not physically because she can certainly keep up, but just being accepted by the rest of her squad.  I got so invested in this story that I’m not actually sure whether I’m satisfied with the ending.  That’s the only reason I rated this book four stars rather than five.

The thing is, I really dislike love triangles.  And if you’re going to do a love triangle with the main character’s childhood best friend and some random newcomer, I expect a certain kind of ending.  Don’t get me wrong – I loved Grant – but we were inside Miller’s head.  We knew all of his emotions.  We knew how much he loved Emerson, and we only got a couple chapters from Grant’s perspective.  In my mind, Grant never stood a chance.

But even with that issue, the book was so well-written that I really can’t criticize anything else.  I only just finished this book and I’m already eagerly anticipating Infraction, which features Emerson’s new friend, Kinsey.  I hope Kinsey’s older brother, Jax, also gets a book.  (Heart eyes emojis all around for Jax.)  I would read the heck out of that.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

I received a free ARC of Fraternize from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for my honest review.

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