My new book Coming up for Air, which comes out July 4, has received 4 great reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal and Romantic Times. I’m so excited! Here are the reviews:
An Olympic-caliber swimmer seeks gold in romance in the latest of Kenneally’s interconnected Hundred Oaks series.
As a teenage swimmer who’s trying desperately to make the cut for the Olympic trials, Maggie’s life is swim, eat, sleep, repeat. The white high school senior’s only break is Friday nights at Jiffy Burger with her friends, including her childhood friend and teammate Levi, also white. Due to swimming, she’s missed a lot of high school experiences—something she feels very keenly when she visits Berkeley, where she will be going in the fall. Her primary swim rival, a white girl with a nose stud named Roxy, is also going to Berkeley, and it seems that Roxy has had plenty of time for romance, unlike Maggie. So she resolves to learn how to make out with a guy before starting college…and who better to teach her than her best friend? After a little coaxing, Levi agrees to show her what to do. As Maggie struggles to both beat Roxy and make the cut for the trials, what was only physical with Levi starts to become something more. Maggie’s present-tense narration is rich with the details of elite student athletics, and she is cleareyed in her exploration of her sexuality, including a look at college hookup culture that manages to be very funny.
The frank depiction of female teenage sexuality elevates this series entry.
Senior Maggie King has spent her life focused on one thing: swimming. Now that she’s been accepted to UC Berkeley and has a real shot at the Olympic trials, Maggie wishes she’d spent a little more time focusing on guys—specifically, how to hook up with them. Her best friend Levi seems to have no problem finding time for girls, even though he’s also a competitive swimmer. Maggie hits on the idea of Levi teaching her the basics of hooking up, but as the lessons start and get steamy, the pressure to perform in the pool mounts for both of them, and her feelings for him deepen. This lighthearted romance has all the trademarks of a Kenneally novel: a strong female lead, a sexy male love interest, and a complicated relationship fraught with sexual tension. Fans of the author’s Hundred Oaks series won’t be disappointed as they watch Maggie’s and Levi’s friendship move in a new direction, and the competitive and uncertain element of Maggie’s future in swimming makes the page turning all the more enjoyable.
School Library Journal:
This stand-alone series entry focuses on Maggie, a high school senior and an elite swimmer training to qualify for the Olympics. Her daily schedule includes hours of swim practice, and her weekends are usually spent at competitions, which has contributed to Maggie’s lack of dating experience. After realizing that she’s increasingly interested in sex yet hesitant to engage in risky behavior, she approaches her best friend and fellow swimmer, Levi, for guidance in navigating a physical relationship with a guy. The proposition threatens to derail their friendship as well as distract them both from their training, but along the way they discover they have feelings for each other. The writing and plotting will appeal to the intended audience and perfectly balance intense sports play-by-play with romance. In her quest to explore her sexuality, Maggie prioritizes her desires and needs. She is always in the driver’s seat, which is not often the case for female characters in YA fiction. Kenneally provides readers with a realistic model of sexual behavior that emphasizes safe sex practices. Hand this title to those who enjoy Kasie West, Morgan Matson, and Emery Lord. VERDICT A contemporary sports fiction romance that offers practical, sex-positive advice; recommended for most teen collections.
The latest visit to Hundred Oaks is quite possibly the best of them all! Maggie King is a delightfully layered heroine to whom readers can easily relate, especially student athletes who have also missed out on “normal” teenage experiences as they worked to achieve their dreams. From the close-knit friendships to the intensity of Maggie’s training, the sizzling chemistry and the authentic emotions, the story remains engaging and current throughout. Honest discussions about sex and self-worth add to the novel’s dimension and appeal.
Maggie King’s life revolves around swimming, school and her three closest friends. But in between training to qualify for the Olympic trials, dealing with a mean-girl rival and visiting her dream college, Maggie realizes she’s missed the typical high-school experiences. Her best friend Levi seems like the perfect choice to help her check certain items off on her mental senior-year bucket list. Despite his hesitations, he agrees to her request, but will their friendship survive the new feelings that arise during their quest?