The Hard Count
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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.
Exceptional Young Adult Fiction
The Hard Count by Ginger Scott is a chaste YA sports romance, but the romance is secondary to the sports and private school politics in the story.
Nicholas (Nico) Medina is hungry. He is hungry to escape the poverty and violence of his wrong-side-of-the-tracks neighborhood. His hunger motivates him. It drives him to work harder at everything he does. He is an excellent student and a natural athlete. His family faces a lot of challenges, but they’re good, down-to-earth, and gracious people.
Reagan Prescott is also driven; she is driven to find a place for herself in the world besides being the star quarterback’s twin sister and the football coach’s daughter. The Prescott family teeters on the crumbling edge of the private school socio-political precipice. Every decision, every action, every loss is judged, and in a world filled with wannabes and legacies, the pressure to perform can break you.
“My film is about the legacy of this program, but also about the pressure it puts on people—on families.” --Reagan
While Nico and Reagan attend the same school, they travel in different circles. Their interactions are solely heated academic debates in class until one night Reagan captures Nico on film.
“Exceptions are responsible for pivotal moments in history.” –Nico
That night the stars aligned to produce some major game changers for Nico and the entire Prescott family. These changes push some rather negative things into the limelight. Drugs, prejudice, bullying, and backstabbing each play a role in The Hard Count. Thankfully, family, honor, respect, and acceptance ultimately take the field as well. The stress and increasing plot tension is palpable with each turn of a page. Ms. Scott’s depiction of the delicate dance between a football coach and the school board is excellent. I felt Coach Prescott’s ulcers burning as he struggled to make the right decision regardless of the probable repercussions.
The main characters are all strong and empathetic. I cared deeply for each of them. Nico is a particularly endearing character—his manners, grace and mature intellect make him a demi-god. The type of nearly perfect young man you trust with your daughter and your football team. Ms. Scott’s storytelling is artful and eloquent; she richly captures each subtle nuance of the high school experience. In addition to a charming romance, lessons in football, and a family drama, The Hard Count perfectly highlights the blatant and subtle fears, prejudices, and responses that arise when agendas and cultures clash.
**While The Hard Count is a chaste romance, it does contain themes that may be too mature for some younger readers (drugs, gangs, violence).
Ginger Scott Pens Quintessential YA Novel
If you're going to continue to write FIVE STAR books that do things to me like make me cry, make me root OUT LOUD for your characters, and make me suffer a FIVE STAR book hangover, begging for more, then I'm going to have to THANK YOU for every heart-tugging word you put on every page!
Thank you, Ginger, for giving Nico and Reagan to the world. For allowing them to know who they are and for making them willing to overcome their own fears, to go against the grain, and to fight for themselves and for each other.
Thank you, Ms. Scott, for tackling the issues of racism and classism with fearless abandon, a tender hand, and at the same time, without being preachy. The careful grace and excellence you've availed in this book is unmatched.
Thank you, fearless Head Ninja, for making it close to impossible to pick ONE favorite of your books. After finishing The Hard Count I have decided that ALL of your books are my favorite, each for a different and specific reason.
Thank you, Ginger, for giving readers this priceless piece of art and for pouring your heart into it with reckless abandon. It's absolutely obvious that you poured your whole soul into this.
Congratulations Ginger! You've penned the quintessential YA novel.
Your "always here to read, blubbering like a baby, nose-blowing, ARC reading" chick from Philly,
Romeo and Juliet meets racism, poverty, gang violence, drugs, basic human kindness, the pressures of striving for more. You see that money doesn't come without it's problems and pressures, but neither does poverty. Sometimes you are richer for those in your life rather then all the gold in the world. Not just a love story, not just football, not a story of over coming adversity.
A story of life. A story of life in many shapes, sizes, colors, and views.... Unedited or beautified.