Not the Usual Season

Young Adult - Coming of Age
228 Pages
Reviewed on 08/27/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

Not the Usual Season by Nancy May is a young adult coming-of-age story filled with lessons for both young people and adults. Ben is a senior high school wrestler with a huge ambition — win the States. He needs to work hard for this last season to come out as the champion. But that is easier thought than done. While he has the drive and the changes to become the champion, there is a lot he has to deal with, and perhaps priorities that might derail him from his dream. While he has to deal with challenges within his family, he also has to deal with his best friend, J.T, the woman his heart beats for, Talia, and the first female wrestler in the team. Does he have what it takes to navigate these hurdles to success?

Not the Usual Season is well-written and the first-person narrative voice is brilliantly handled. The reader is pulled into the perspective of the protagonist and shares his experiences, exploring themes of love, friendship, family, and purpose. The ache for love and a strong sense of belonging are themes that are deftly handled and the writing provokes readers to think about what really matters. Is it always about winning or finding meaning in what we do through strong human connections? The characters are well developed, genuinely flawed, and filled with humanity. I was pulled in right from the beginning, and the pensive style in Nancy May’s writing kept me engaged through each page of the narrative. An enjoyable read, indeed.

Foluso Falaye

Caught between a need to secure his future and a desire to create lasting memories in his final year of high school, Benjamin McDowell has to win both the state championship in wrestling and a Navy ROTC scholarship, find the courage to talk to his crush, and spend time with his friends and family; even though his mom is embarrassingly obsessed with their dogs and his autistic brother usually causes a scene. Ben's world comes crashing down when a devastating event severs a close relationship and resurfaces his unanswered questions about life and religion. He must find the strength to go on even as he seeks meaning in life. In Not the Usual Season, Nancy May narrates an entertaining and endearing coming-of-age story that anyone can relate to.

Taking time out from our busy lives to see things from a real or fictitious perspective creates an avenue to be more appreciative and feel less isolated. Nancy May projects realistic experiences that surround a teenage boy, which had me remembering and pointing out some similar experiences I had. It also contains explicit language and discussions about religion; several characters are Christians, but the main protagonist asks questions and makes statements that project doubts and unbelief. Some of Ben's conclusions help him to keep at his goals despite his flaws and doubts, and I think they would be of value to anyone that's feeling somewhat overwhelmed by life's troubles. Not the Usual Season feels natural and relaxing. I totally recommend it for a laid-back evening read.

Rabia Tanveer

Not the Usual Season by Nancy May is the story of a young man who realizes that there is more to life than just fighting for a win; sometimes you have to fight for relationships. Ben is a high school senior, he is a decent student and is on the Wildcat wrestling team. He is finally in the good books of Coach G and he hopes to keep it that way until he graduates. All that he wants to do is make sure he reaches the state championship and nothing is going to get in his way. However, life has other plans for him and he is about to find out. He wants the attention of beautiful Talia and he does not want the new female wrestler (Jordan) in their team to outshine him. Sooner or later, Ben will find out that there is more to his senior year in high school than reaching the state championship.

Not the Usual Season by Nancy May is a brilliant coming of age story of a young man who finally realizes that having ambition is good, but sometimes, your relationships matter more than achieving some goals. Ben is not a narcissistic character; he is more focused on the goal he wants to achieve. He is supported by J.T and, together, these two boys are on the top of their world. However, when they get a reality check, they stick to each other. The author smartly takes the story forward and makes sure the reader is hooked from the moment Ben is introduced. Nancy May adds a layer of humor, witty remarks, and sharp details to make Ben’s character believable. His journey is honest, worthy of your time, and perfect for a rainy day. The author takes us into the life of a young man who is trying to achieve something but gets to have incredible friends and relationships as well.