I am a sports fan. Maybe not your traditional one, but I’m still a fan tried and true. I’ve participated in sports my entire life, and I thoroughly enjoy watching a good sporting event. (Especially baseball…Go Nats!)
I also happen to be a big Emily Giffin fan.
Never did I think that my fanaticism for both would combine to make for such a captivating reading experience. But that’s exactly what I got with Giffin’s newest novel, The One & Only. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read a book that created and captured the magic of sports along with building some seriously engrossing and engaging characters along the ride.
The One & Only is a book about a lot of things. It’s about love. It’s about friendship. It’s about discovering what you truly desire. It’s about blinding passion for so many things. It also happens to be about sports, and the magic and loyalty that sports create.
This book presents a plethora of wonderful characters, but is told from the perspective of Shea, a woman who’s lived in the small town of Walker, Texas her entire life. She grew up there, went to school there, and even began working for the University after college. To say that Walker University football is her life is a pretty big understatement. She’s a diehard fan, and is as loyal as the days are long. She’s grown up there with her oldest and best friend Lucy, the daughter of the College’s legendary football coach, Coach Carr.
This book has a serious Friday Night Lights feel to it. The world of Walker revolves around football. It’s the engine that keeps that town and its inhabitants going in more ways than one, and it’s what brings every one of these truly authentic characters together. But this book isn’t just about football (though football does play an extremely important role in many ways), it’s about so many more things…
Now I’ve read and absolutely loved all of Emily Giffin’s book, but I have to say this one set the bar on a whole new level. What I absolutely loved in The One & Only:
- The out of this freaking world build up. I’m not going to reveal specifics, but let me tell you I could feel the buildup and tension growing with every page, and it was magnificent. In all honesty the whole book is a grand buildup to so many different things, and I constantly found myself waiting for the moments when that tension would finally come to ahead. And those moments coupled with the fanfreakingtastic build up took my breath away.
- The true capture of the essence of sports. Emily Giffin did a phenomenal job of creating the true essence of sports, and what it means to be a sports fan. She made it so easy to understand the world of Walker University football because she beautifully captured a town and its people that breathes sports. The loyalty, the passion, and the magic of sports is all there. It’s also chalk full of sports references and metaphors that make so much sense individually and with the story as a whole.
- The flow. This book just flowed. It covers a span of time easily, with no gaps, while it presents a seamless story that just moves. It’s extremely easy to read and you’re going to get absorbed into instantly.
- The theme of deciding what feels right, what you want, and what you need. Shea is at a point in her life where she needs to decide what she’s looking for in her life. Up until now she’s made choices without giving anything a second thought. (Kind of the easy way out.) But the events in The One & Only force Shea to reexamine things. She’s got to decide what she wants and what she needs, and what she’s gonna fight for, because it’s time for her to step up to the field and play. The choices Shea makes thrust these characters into some interesting predicaments, and that was ridiculously enthralling in the best possible way.
- Real human beings with real human feelings. All of Emily Giffin’s novels have this characteristic, but The One & Only has it in spades. All of its characters are real, with real feelings, thoughts, and actions. That’s what makes them all wholly believable, engaging, and easy to connect to in the blink of an eye. They’re all just real, and that’s what I adored about them all. (Especially Miller!)
- The bond of friendship. Shea and Lucy have a friendship that has lasted decades. Reading about their friendship was refreshing, and it added another fantastic layer. One of Emily Giffin’s strong suits in writing is female friendship, and that rings true here yet again.
- The magic. There is magic in this book. Not literally, but there is a true sense of magic flowing its way through this book and its characters. It’s there with every detailed mention of sports that’s beautifully created, and it’s there with the many relationships being built and examined in this book. That magic makes this book, and you will feel it from beginning to end.
- We’re down to Earth here. All of these characters are down to earth in the best possible way. It all adds to that realness thing, and it makes it feel utterly real and believable.
- Shea’s journey. Shea goes on one hell of a journey full of highs and lows. She goes through a ton of self-discovery to find out what it is that she wants to do and have with her life. She makes mistakes and has missteps over the course of this self-discovery, but that’s what makes her, her. Shea ends up in some pretty unexpected places and in some events that were just awe inspiring, but that’s what makes this book what it is. The One & Only is really about Shea and her journey to find something to believe in within herself and the world around her. And it’s gonna leave you speechless with one hell of a book hangover.
I have to say this may be my favorite of Emily Giffin’s books to date. It’s different than the rest, and I think that’s what makes it my personal favorite and what sets it apart.
Don’t get me wrong, the book is full of what makes all of her novels great, but this one pushes the boundaries. It makes you think, it makes you feel, and it makes you really wonder where the journey of this book will take you. Enjoy that journey, because that’s not something that happens every time you open a book.
I honestly don’t think I could recommend The One & Only or any of Giffin’s other booksto you enough. Reading this book will give you a seriously remarkable reading experience. It’s got truly believable characters that you’re going to eat up and adore, it’s got a world you’ll be able to fully sink into by about page 4, it’s got some serious plot with highs and lows that’ll take your breath away, it’s got the dynamics of love and friendship that make this novel, and in the end you’ll be oh so glad you had the chance to experience it all.
You’re really missing out if you pass this one up. So don’t be a sore loser, and check it out today.
(Oh, and if you’re real curious about how the title of this post ties into the book, you’ll just have to read the damn book to find out….)
To learn more about Emily Giffin and her books, check out the following links: