Blog Tour Review: Sidelined by Kara Bietz

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A feel-good high school sports romance

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond and Kara Bietz for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publishing Date: September 21, 2021

An emotional YA romance about small town secrets, high school football, and broken hearts.

Julian Jackson has a short to-do list for his senior year at Crenshaw County High School in Meridian, Texas: football, football, and more football. He knows he’s only got one chance to earn a college scholarship and make it out of his small town, and keeping his head down, his grades up, and his cleats on the field is that one chance. And then Elijah Vance walks back into his life, throwing all of his carefully-laid plans into a tailspin.

Elijah and Julian used to be best friends, maybe even on their way to something more than just friends. But three years ago, Elijah broke into the school to steal money from the coach’s office, and Julian was the one who turned him in. After that, Elijah and his family disappeared without a trace. And now he’s back, sitting at Julian’s grandmother’s kitchen table.

But time and distance haven’t erased all of their feelings, and Elijah knows that he finally has a chance to prove to Julian that he’s not the same person he was three years ago. But with secrets still growing between them and an uncertain future barreling towards them, it may be harder to lean on each other than they thought.

Purchase/Information Links:

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on

About the Author

Kara Bietz was born in New England but currently resides just outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her family. Her first novel, Until I Break, was a Texas Library Association Spirit of Texas Reading Program selection. Her newest release, Sidelined, is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.
When she’s not writing, you can find Kara hanging out with her family, singing show tunes to her dogs, and adding to her impressive pen collection. 

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

Look at how cute that cover is!!!! It’s the first thing that drove me to sign up for this tour. Add the cute cover to the idea of an enemies to lovers/second chance gay romance and I was sold.

The blurb for Sidelined actually makes this novel sound more dramatic than it is—I would say this is a feel-good YA contemporary that proved to be a nice and chill comfort read for me. While there are a few dramatic twists and turns, there were handled fairly quickly and fairly well. To be quite honest, the book was so chill that I worried about so many bad things happening but none of them did—and I’m grateful for that. Sometimes it even felt as if the author had written in more conflict in a previous draft and then decided to remove it in the end while keeping the initial set up. Either way, I wasn’t complaining!

One of the things that I absolutely loved about this Sidelined was that there is practically a complete absence of homophobia. I was worried that it would be a prevalent part of the plot since its a football story that takes place in a small town in Texas, but everything was totally fine. It can be incredibly draining to read contemporary after contemporary where the queer protagonists have to deal with rampant discrimination and bullying. It was nice to have a break from that.

If you’ve read many of my previous reviews (particularly in YA novels) you’ll know that two of my pet peeves are unlikable main characters and lack of communication. While there is a bit of lack of communication in Sidelined, I was actually very satisfied with how well Julian and Elijah seemed to work through conflicts while sharing relevant information. On top of that, I liked both of them despite their individual downfalls, and. I wanted them both to get their happy ending. I was even a huge fan of all of the side characters. I would definitely read a spin-off about Bucky and Camille; there’s so much potential there.

Overall, I was a big fan of this book! If you’re a fan of YA contemporaries with cute romantic sub plots, definitely give this a try!

Sidelined released yesterday! You can grab yourself a copy at any of the purchase links listed above!

4 thoughts on “Blog Tour Review: Sidelined by Kara Bietz

  1. Lady Tessa September 22, 2021 / 7:18 pm

    That cover is very cute! Sounds like a wonderful story. Great review, Jenny!

    Liked by 1 person

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