The Goal (Off-Campus #4) by Elle Kennedy

We are thrust (hehe) back into the world that is Briar University. This book is about events going on behind the scenes of The Score until about the half way point. Therefore, we already knew the “big surprise” which I think really took away from the reading experience.

The boys’ hockey team isn’t doing so well on the ice, but all the girls continue to throw themselves at the players, regardless. All of the hockey stars we’ve read about in the previous three books have partnered up, and now it’s Tucker’s turn.

I’m not going to lie; Tucker was never a favorite side-character of mine, so I wasn’t ecstatic to learn he would get his own book. I actually hoped it would be Hunter, but what can you do? His love interest, Sabrina, has a difficult past with Dean, but the more I read about her, the more I really liked her.

And If I have to give this book one compliment it would be that this book really embraces female sexuality. There is no slut-shaming in this book, and it portrays girls having/wanting sex accurately and healthily. I wish every new-adult book shared this basic concept that I pray will be embraced more.

Okay, that’s really all I have to say that won’t have spoilers. You already know, from my rating, that I didn’t enjoy this book, but I feel like I can’t express why I found this book problematic without giving pretty heavy spoilers. Please do not continue if you haven’t read this book or the predecessors.

Okay, we all knew the big twist was that Tucker got Dean’s arch-nemesis pregnant. In the blurb, I read how the arch-nemesis, Sabrina, was a successful college student who aspired to go to Harvard Law. I mean, that all sounds promising, and I was excited to see a girl not give up her dreams for a man just because they got pregnant.

Unfortunately, Tucker had stalker-like actions for the majority of this book, and Sabrina chose to put an innocent baby in a high-danger situation. It felt bad, man. It felt really bad.

Also, there is a lot of “men’s roles” and “women’s roles” in this book, and that, too, felt extremely bad. Yeah, Sabrina never gave up on her dreams, and that’s amazing, but there was a weird emphasis on her life being better/easier once she relied on Tucker to be the “bread winner.” There were also stereotypes about how the man always pays, and things of that nature.

As I said above, I actually really like Sabrina, and probably connected to her more than any of the female love interests from the previous books, but why couldn’t she just move in with her supportive and loving friends who constantly gave her support and offered more? That would have made for such a better story.

Actually, Tucker and Sabrina’s “love” reminded me a lot of Hopeless, because even though I find it problematic and very creepy, I can see others thinking Tucker’s “determination” is endearing. But girls, please, if some guy follows you home to “make sure you got there safely” after you’ve already told him no, and then gets your class schedule to find you, because you’re not texting back, even though you told him a onetime hook up was all you wanted, please run in the other fucking direction. Please, do not let books like this romanticize men undermining women and their wants.

I also feel like Elle Kennedy wasn’t sure if she wanted to paint the Grandma in a negative or positive light. Maybe she was going for neutral, but her characterization felt bad and I was in a constant state of anxiety when Sabrina would leave the baby with her, regardless of the ignorant choice because of the step-dad alone.

Plus, there was a huge disconnect from some of the topics Elle Kennedy tried to write about. Maybe it’s an age difference, or just not being familiar with people in their young to mid-twenties, but these disconnects were very present and would draw me out of the story each and every time:

– How Fitzy had to go to a “gaming store” because he wanted a role-playing game that he can’t find online. So, one of two things is happening here: 1.) He means an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing games – I mean, Legion did just come out) which is so laughable because not only are these played on PC, no one I know has bought a MMO disc, in person, in years! Or 2) He means a table top D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) game, which literally anything can be bought on Wizards of the Coast’s website. I mean, in general, anything can be found online in 2016. Regardless, the author seems clueless about the gaming genre, and if Fitzy is going to be a part of her spin-off series, I hope she does a lot of research.

– How Sabrina posted on her Instagram account a picture of an upholstered glider that she wanted. Like, that’s not how you use Instagram, Mrs. Kennedy. I mean, you could, but Pintrest would have been a much better choice. Hell, even Facebook.

– There is a line from a middle-aged woman about how a girl is “far too beautiful” to be gay. Yes, Tucker does state that “beautiful girls can be lesbians,” but the banter was still pretty gross. She, then, goes on the question that “maybe she’s bi” instead of accepting that the girl is a lesbian. Also, tucker has to preface he ran into an old high school friend with “She’s an L” you know, because guys and girls can’t just hang out without one of them being gay, and the slang “L” for lesbian is totally a thing, right?

Listen, I’ve praised this series from day one. I got my mom and all her friends to read this series, because I wouldn’t shut up about The Deal, but I’m not going to let my love for the other books sway my rating with this book. I’m just going to pretend like this book never happened, and patiently wait for what Elle Kennedy has in store for us next, which will probably be Dean’s troublemaker sister, Summer.

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