The Hard Count by Ginger Scott
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)on July 15th 2016
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Dating & Relationships, Dating & Sex, Family, Football, Social Issues, Social Themes, Sports & Recreation, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction
Nico Medina’s world is eleven miles away from mine. During the day, it’s a place where doors are open—where homes are lived in, and neighbors love. But when the sun sets, it becomes a place where young boys are afraid, where eyes watch from idling cars that hide in the shadows and wicked smoke flows from pipes.
West End is the kind of place that people survive. It buries them—one at a time, one way or another. And when Nico was a little boy, his mom always told him to run.
I’m Reagan Prescott—coach’s daughter, sister to the prodigal son, daughter in the perfect family.
Life on top.
My world is the ugly one. Private school politics and one of the best high school football programs in the country can break even the toughest souls. Our darkness plays out in whispers and rumors, and money and status trump all. I would know—I’ve watched it kill my family slowly, strangling us for years.
In our twisted world, a boy from West End is the only shining light.
I hated him before I needed him.
I fell for him fast.
I loved him when it was almost too late.
When two ugly worlds collide, even the strongest fall. But my world…it hasn’t met the boy from West End.
I loved this book! If you haven’t heard about it yet (seriously, though, I won’t shut up about it, so I’m not sure how you haven’t), but here’s some more about this lovely YA sport romance. Get your copy of The Hard Count because I know you won’t regret it!
The Hard Count, in Five Words –
Prejudice: I mention this in my acknowledgements, that this book…it’s about more than football. This word was the driving force for me behind this story, and above all, The Hard Count is about confronting those things we assume about others based on where they live, the color of their skin, their religion, background, and families. I wanted to write a book that wasn’t shy about portraying the everyday prejudice, hate and racism that exists. And then I wanted to prove it all wrong because love…it wins.
Family: This word applies to The Hard Count in many aspects, the most obvious in the closeness of each main character to his/her family. Family comes in many forms, and it tries us, and pushes our limits. The love from family though is one of the most powerful gifts, and in this book, even when things are grim, when hope feels lost—family is always there, no matter what side of the bridge you live on. And that sense carries out onto the field. There’s a saying the Cornwall Tiger Tradition have: Honor. Brotherhood. Tradition. This team is built on a sense of family, and when they forget that, their strength is lost.
Adversity: Adversity is at the heart of many of my stories. I love the human spirit and our ability to overcome. I like to think we have real life superheroes on earth. While I’ve written about people overcoming mental and physical barriers, Nico is different—for him, that barrier is something less tangible. It’s wrapped up in assumptions, in racism and class, and the limitations that come with being born on the poor street, in the neighborhood where drugs are sold and bullets pierce the walls of your home. Nico may just be my favorite hero yet.
Trust: This word is a subtle player in The Hard Count. Trust is broken and tested by several people, and in many ways each character, not just our main hero and heroine, need to find their faith again. Brothers test, teammates fail, fathers lose—but The Hard Count is about those people still left standing in your corner when it all goes wrong.
Will. I was going to say ego for my final word, but ego is really the villain in this story, and frankly, I didn’t want to give him that much power 😉 His arch nemesis is will—sheer will. That’s what makes Nico good at anything he does, his own determined will to succeed, to overcome and to push himself harder. Will is what makes Cornwall so good, and will is what readers will see out there on that field.
Ginger’s Favorite Quotes from The Hard Count
- “I glance up just enough to see his smile, all lopsided and perfect, the dimple that he gets when he’s right in its place. I hate him so much.”
– Reagan PrescottThis quote is all about that war that happens inside of us when we acknowledge that yes…yes he’s good looking, but damn it all to hell, he’s still a cocky SOB. Ha!
- “Nico is a wild stallion full of promise and gifts, and I’m not sure if he can be tamed. I’m not sure if he should.”
– Reagan PrescottI love this quote because it’s maybe the first time Reagan starts to look at Nico as more than just some pig-headed genius that pushes her buttons in their honors class debates. She acknowledges that he might just be special, and maybe she’s okay with telling herself he is.
- “This right here? It’s just a game. What matters are the relationships inside of it.”
– Bob, the trainerI love my side characters. If you’ve read any of my previous books, you’ve probably noticed that I try to give a lot of time, color and detail to the bit players in a story. I want my reader to feel like they are walking in someone’s shoes, and that means the people you meet along the way in a story all make an impact. Bob is this very small character, but he is, in many ways, the “Silent Bob” of The Hard Count. He delivers profound words of wisdom when they are needed most, and I love his take on what makes this football team so great.
- “Look at me like you expect more. Look at me like it isn’t going to be easy.” Nico breathes the words against my lips, pausing when his bottom lip connects with my top, the faintness of the touch so much better than any other real kiss I’ve had. “Make me earn it,” he says, pausing again to take my top lip between both of his. “I’ll earn it. I’ll never stop trying to earn it…to earn you.”
– Nico MedinaI love this one because it’s where Nico’s stubborn determinism meets swoon. He wants to be tested—he thrives off of it. He knows that when someone is pushing him to be better that he will step up, and this is him showing how he will always step up for Reagan.
- “You can be a toad in love with a beautiful girl all you want, but in the end, you’re still a toad. That’s how everyone is going to see you, and you know what? That’s how the beautiful girl sees you, too—when other people are looking.”
– Nico Medina
This line comes from a class debate about how the original fairytales weren’t about happy endings, but it’s about a lot more than the debate at hand. I love how honest this line is, how it shows how easy it is to let society tell us what we should think—what we should feel, who we should love and their worth in the eyes of the masses. It’s about our ugly sides.