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New Release Review: THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR by Sarina Bowen

Just released this week! If you haven’t already, check out the giveaway here.

The Understatement of the Year
by Sarina Bowen


What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexuality from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.

Warning: unlike the other books in this series, this heartbreaking love story is about two guys. Contains sexual situations, dance music, snarky t-shirts and a poker-playing grandmother.



This was a book of firsts for me: first of the series–first by the author, actually–and first New Adult m/m romance. What a book to start with! I can only hope any that I read after this will live up to its extremely high standards 🙂

The Understatement of the Year was such a good read. I mean, Sarina Bowen had me at “hockey players”, but then she took the book way, way further than I ever expected. I don’t think I was even finished with the first chapter when I found myself 100% invested in Rikker and Graham’s story. It’s a second-chance romance story, one of my favorites–and did I mention they’re hockey players???

Michael Graham is a junior and a big, bruiser of a defenseman on the Harkness College hockey team. He seems like he has it all–an enviable position on the team, the respect of his teammates and coach, and puck bunnies galore. But the poor guy is so far in the closet that he can’t even find the door anymore–and he doesn’t even realize how much living a lie is suffocating him until his worst nightmare walks into the locker room.

John Rikker used to be Graham’s best friend. Throughout middle school the two were practically inseparable. They spent hours playing video games, and it was Rikker who got Graham to start playing hockey in the first place. They were in love with each other long before either realized it–and then their relationship came to a sudden and violent end. Rikker moved away, and Graham started burying himself deep into that closet.

Now Rikker’s back, and he’s the first player to be “out” in college hockey–definitely not by choice, but there it is. It’s turning into a big deal, and adds an unbelievable amount of pressure on him. All he wants is to play hockey and feel somewhat accepted at school and by his team–and his former best friend, the first love he’s never really gotten over, is right there in front of him but barely even acknowledges his existence.

Their story is told in alternating first-person POV, and it’s masterfully done. We see first hand how hard it is for Rikker to deal with the entire planet (or at least that’s how it seems) knowing his sexual orientation and we feel every single taunt and slight that comes his way because of it. We’re right there with Graham as he tears himself up inside over what happened five years earlier, and share his agony over wanting to be there for Rikker now but feeling that he can’t–or won’t. Either way, it’s destroying him. It’s heartbreaking to read–and impossible to put down.

Sarina Bowen has told an amazing story here–and it’s definitely one I’ll be reading again. It’s gut-wrenching, and romantic, and thought-provoking all at once…and oh my gosh when Graham finally tells his mother I was crying. Crying.

Honestly, it’s a must-read.

I can’t wait to back up and read the earlier books in this series!

Rating: 5 stars / A

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

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