“He’s made me want to act, to be better. In a little more than a minute, Nico Medina has made me believe—he’s made most of us believe.”- Reagan, The Hard Count
Synopsis via Goodreads: 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.Lies.
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.Quarterback.Hero.Heart.Good.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.
After finishing Hold My Breath, I knew I needed to pick up another Ginger Scott book ASAP! I needed more of her words and The Hard Count came highly recommended by a few of my favorite bloggers, so I immediately dived in not even reading the synopsis to see what this story was about. I was expecting a cute YA sports romance and I got something else entirely, something so much more and I was truly moved by this story.
The Hard Count follows our two main characters, Reagan Prescott and Nico Medina. They are both seniors that attend the same prestigious private school and are constantly competing with one another when it comes to academics. Reagan is the coach’s daughter and comes from a seemingly perfect family. Nico is a scholarship student who comes from the wrong side of town. When the Reagan’s brother, the star of the football team injures himself, Reagan suggests that Nico try out. But making the team is the easy part…staying on the team might prove to be some work.
Ginger Scott has a unique way of telling a story, creating characters with such depth and a story with so many layers, it is no wonder I get so emotional while reading her books. The Hard Count is so much more than your typical sports romance. This book tackles a number of heavy issues, like racism, societal expectations, family, etc. Nico is a Mexican American who comes from West End, a not-so-nice neighborhood on the other side of the highway. Reagan has lived a privileged life and comes from what seems like a perfect family. Because of their differences in race and privileges, people in the community don’t think they belong together. Majority of them are also against Nico being on the football team because of his race. Throughout this story, Nico deals with a number of obstacles, but they never slow him down as he keeps pushing forward. I liked the way Scott handled the theme of racism and how she addressed in certain situations by having characters realize their beliefs and this way of thinking is wrong. Characters realized that they had to do better if real change was ever to occur. I also liked how family played an important role in this book. I absolutely adored Nico’s family and the relationship he had with mother and niece. Reagan’s family had a number of issues that they needed to work out, but they eventually found their way back to each other and became a stronger unit by the end of story.
Nico and Reagan are SO CUTE! I loved their back-and-forth banter because let’s face it, they are pretty nerdy. They have a lot more in common than they think and those similarities bring them even closer together. The romance is a slow-burning one because there are a number of issues and obstacles that these two have to overcome if they want to be together. Nico is a sweetheart, but hasn’t always had it easy. Despite the challenges he face, he still wants to be an inspiration to those in his community and show that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can still achieve anything you want with hard work and perseverance. I initially thought I had Reagan figured out, but she ended up surprising me. Not only was she calling out her own family’s internalized racism, but also recognized her own internalized racism and realized that she too had to do better.
The Hard Count was such a damn good book, I WAS IN TEARS BY THE END. SO MANY THINGS HAPPENED THAT I WASN’T EXPECTING, I COULD NOT DEAL! If you haven’t read Ginger Scott’s book yet, I urge you to get to it and pick up this book first! You won’t regret reading this story and hopefully you are moved by Nico and Reagan’s story as much as I was.