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The One & Only

Review

The One & Only

In her previous six novels, Emily Giffin has shown herself more than adept at portraying complicated, even dramatically flawed, heroines --- the kinds of protagonists that might, at least initially, draw readers' interest rather than their easy sympathies. With her latest effort, THE ONE & ONLY, Giffin continues this trend, giving us a complex protagonist at the center of romantic, professional and moral quandaries.

Shea Rigsby has spent nearly her whole life in Walker, Texas, and that's just fine with her. Her life revolves around the football team at Walker's university, and has as long as she can remember. Her best friend, Lucy, is the daughter of Walker's football coach, Clive Carr, a local hero in this town that grinds to a halt every football Saturday. Shea graduated from Walker, and although she always harbored aspirations of becoming a sports journalist, she now works, of course, for Walker's athletic department and dates Miller, a former Walker football player who's a local coach himself.

"...a sports novel that will appeal to a broad swath of readers, even those who don't care one iota about football."

The rhythm of Shea's life is comfortable and predictable; she knows what to expect, even if she's not a hundred percent sure she's dating the right guy or pursuing the right career. But everything in her life is turned upside down when Coach Carr's wife and Lucy's mother, the woman who held together not only the Carr family but also, in many ways, the whole university sports community, dies quite suddenly. In the course of a few short months, Shea finds herself second-guessing everything she thought she knew.

Shea is flattered when Walker's most noted alumnus, now the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, expresses interest in her. She is honored when Coach Carr puts in a good word for her with the sports editor at the Dallas newspaper, where Shea would be the only female sportswriter on staff. And she is deeply confused and conflicted when, almost despite herself, she starts having feelings for someone who, by all accounts, should be strictly off-limits. All of these personal dilemmas are set in the midst of an NCAA investigation of the Walker football program that threatens to complicate Shea's professional ambitions and romantic desires alike.

THE ONE & ONLY succeeds on several levels. For one thing, it's a sports novel that will appeal to a broad swath of readers, even those who don't care one iota about football. Giffin also sets up several legitimately compelling conflicts, none of which have easy answers, and she integrates these overlapping conundrums seamlessly into Shea's overall development as a character. Some may find the conclusion (which quickly wraps up one predicament but leaves another wide open) not entirely satisfying, but most will be compelled to keep reading --- as much to find out Shea's fate as to learn if Walker wins the big game.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on May 22, 2014

The One & Only
by Emily Giffin

  • Publication Date: May 20, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0345546881
  • ISBN-13: 9780345546883