The minute J. Sterling announced that her latest book was going to tell Chance Carter’s story I was beyond excited. It took me back to her earlier years when her Perfect Game novels were all I could think about. Jack Carter and Cassie Andrews dominated my heart when they took me on their roller-coaster journey, and I couldn’t wait to see how their son turned out.
Behind the Plate was everything I hoped for and more. Chance, it seemed, had the best of both Jack and Cassie: honourable, kind, passionate, career-driven, and headstrong – even if he did have his father’s temper and his mother’s determination. Sterling gave us a story with a message so poignant that it practically saves us and makes us question our own lives, leaving us wondering: is the life I want to live? Is this the person I want to love? Is this who I want to be?
The most anticipated J. Sterling release of the year is finally here! You’ve waited years to meet Jack Carter’s son and the wait is over! Strap in and enjoy the ride.
Chance Carter is the son of local baseball legend, Jack Carter. Now in his junior year at Fullton State, Chance is facing challenges he never saw coming. Failing a class will stop his draft season short, making him ineligible to play and pushing his goal of professional baseball even further away.
In steps Danika, a mouthy tutor from New York, who only wants to help him pass his class… NOT get in his pants. But try telling that to Chance. He doesn’t trust girls and he definitely doesn’t trust his new tutor. A lifetime growing up as a Carter taught him that.
But Danika has issues of her own. After an incident that happened last year, she doesn’t trust athletes and wants nothing to do with them. And Chance is no exception.
The fireworks explode as the two try to deny the chemistry between them and family secrets are revealed. Chance doesn’t know how to give up on something he wants and he’s decided he wants Danika. There’s just one problem… she has a boyfriend she has no intention of breaking up with.
How can he have her when she belongs to someone else?
I have always loved Sterling’s stories. I love the characters she creates. None of them are perfect, and they are all flawed in some way. But that’s what makes them real. It’s what makes them relatable, it’s what makes us root for them and hope for them and hurt for them.
However, the thing that makes her books special is that she gives hope to her young female readers. She writes about guys like Jack, and Cole, and Chance, to remind young girls that real love exists in the world and they should never settle for anything less than a love that makes them feel alive. From her stories, we can tell she believes – in what sometimes feels like overwhelming evidence to the contrary – that there are still good guys out there who are worthy of our love and devotion. Guys who would move heaven and earth to be with us, no matter the obstacles.
Behind the Plate is no different. Danika is already involved with another guy when she meets Chance, but we soon discover that that relationship is a rather loveless one, where the commitment stems form obligation and habit rather than anything else. A relationship full of arguments, lack of trust, possessiveness, jealousy and ultimatums. This is not the way it should feel to be with someone. That is not what love is supposed to feel like.
Around the middle of the book, Danika reveals something her mum once told her, which I feel is the message that Sterling wanted to get across in this book. She said:
“Be happy. Be ridiculously happy, Nika. Don’t let anyone else be responsible for your joy. That’s up to you. So, chase it. Without abandon. Without guilt. Without fear. And never settle. Not in life. And especially not in love.”– J. Sterling, Behind the Plate
In both life and love, we should never settle for anything less than what makes us truly happy. And once we find what makes us happy, we shouldn’t let it slip past us.
This is why Sterling is such a good role model for young girls. Her message in Behind the Plate reminds us to never settle for less than we deserve. We are worth being loved fully, madly and passionately, with all of our imperfections and flaws. We deserve to be put first, to be made to feel like we matter; we deserve someone who chooses to stay when are at our lowest and love us when we don’t feel so lovable.
Behind the Plate is the love story of the year, and not a story to be missed.