In the world of Texas football, team allegiances are hard-lined, and devotion runs deep. The small college town of Walker—the setting of Emily Giffin’s seventh novel, The One & Only—is no exception. Beautiful, down-to-earth Shea Rigsby is the ultimate hometown girl: She’s happily spent all of her 33 years in Walker supporting her beloved Broncos. With a messy, less than perfect family to call her own, Shea was raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the effortlessly chic and opinionated daughter of Walker’s legendary football coach, Clive Carr.

Shea has never even considered leaving home, and she’s been working in her university’s athletic department, feeding her football obsession and spending most of the last decade either in bleachers or on the sidelines. But when tragedy strikes the Carr family, Shea’s cozy, predictable life is thrown off balance, and she starts to question her trajectory for the first time.

Emboldened by the realization of her own mortality, she plucks up the courage to pursue her dream of writing, and, with a gentle nudge from Coach, makes a call to the Dallas Post. She’s offered her dream job—taking over the Walker Broncos beat, of course—yet her professional triumph is quickly overshadowed by her relationship with the stunning star quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Though everything seems to be coming up roses, Giffin’s story soon turns to unexpectedly dark territory where emotional and domestic abuses are uncovered.

Not surprisingly, it is Giffin’s trademark honesty that makes the reader relate to and root for Shea and the rest of her female characters amongst the chaos. Shea is certainly flawed, a bit immature and often confused about what she wants out of life, but her strength is never up for debate.

The One & Only is a poignant story about growing up and into your own skin, albeit a little later in life. Shea learns to trust and follow her heart; no matter what expectations or aspirations others may have for her. Giffin makes the world of football so accessible, the reader may find themselves turning on the game after they turn the last page.

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