I’m back with another Catholic fiction book review, this one for Leslea Wahl’s young adult contemporary romance The Perfect Blindside.
Teenage Jake is a silver-medal Olympic snowboarder and as focused on himself as he is on the superpipe—but then he’s forced to a high school in a small Colorado town where he runs into Sophie, a quick-tempered school journalist who has a bad taste in her mouth for him (not to mention a grudge). But then each finds out there might be more to each other—and the town—than they first thought.
Leslea Wahl has a knack for creating a comfort zone for readers with her colloquial and homey writing style. There’s also an inherent genuineness to it, indicating a story written from the author’s true passion, something that can be sensed better than pointed out. The unique setting and situation (I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve read that take place in Colorado and sink into the unique culture of certain areas in that state) are enjoyable and authentic. I also appreciated how the characters addressed issues relatable to modern teens.
This book was written with a certain audience in mind, and for the sake of reviewer honesty, I have to admit that I am not a part of that audience, so this novel wasn’t my personal cup of tea. However, it might be the perfect fit for a reader with different preferences. The Perfect Blindside is labeled under Catholic Teen Books (your go-to resource for Catholic YA) as a mystery and under Amazon as a Catholic thriller. As a thriller writer, I found it different than this expectation. Rather, it was a YA contemporary romance that happened to have a cozy mystery ending. The whole narrative offered a tame, Hallmark feel; expressed an extremely clean-cut arc; and utilized repeatedly found patterns such as the enemies-to-romance trope, the miscommunication trope, the break-up-to-protect-the-other trope, et cetera. For persons who enjoy this type of story, I would certainly recommend taking a look at The Perfect Blindside.
I found the writing style throughout was more explanatory than immersive, and the same can be said of the dialogue and the character arcs. The readers are frequently presented with facts and themes directly, rather than being allowed to experience the story and journey themselves, which has a distancing effect, whereas a more demonstrative approach can render the characters and their words or actions more sympathetic and compelling.
In sum, The Perfect Blindside is a clean, feel-good romance with a construction ideal for a niche audience. I will pick up more of Leslea Wahl’s books in the future, including the sequel, eXtreme Blindside, and her novels Where You Lead and Into the Spotlight. As always, please support our Catholic authors!