Jun 27 2016 10:00am

Romance Novels to Read If You Like Friday Night Lights—Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose


Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose

“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”

This is the rallying cry of one of my personal favorite television shows of all time, Friday Night Lights. Guaranteed to give you goosebumps of the “feelings” kind, and definitely draw a tear or two (or twenty), this is a television show like no other before it.

And in case you hadn’t heard, during the second week of June 2016, the cast re-united in Austin, Texas ten years after the show began. (And boy do I feel old!) If you’ve never gotten a chance to watch this iconic show, you’re in luck because it’s currently available on Netflix’s streaming service. If you’re already well-acquainted with FNL, then I do not have to tell you how amazing it was and remains to this day.

Throughout its five-year run on NBC/DirecTV, Friday Night Lights brought us countless stories: the all-too realistic depiction of a modern Texas small town (fictional Dillon, Texas), stories of high school and football politics, the revelation that was the on-screen marriage of Tami and Coach Eric Taylor, tales of painful familial loss, aging relatives, abuse, teen pregnancy and abortion, stories about living with disability, about living just above (and sometimes under) the poverty line, stories of first love, forbidden love, second love, (third love?), hard truths about parenthood, brotherhood, friendships and more. (Let’s not forget that almost-threesome in Mexico! I sure can’t!) There has never been anything like it on television, and I very seriously doubt there will ever be again.

But thankfully, there are a few books I’d like to recommend that might help to fill the void in some small way. Of course, nothing can ever match the brilliance that was this show, or the brooding gorgeousness of Timmy Riggins, but I hope that these selections will come close for many of you!

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Catching Jordan, Miranda Kenneally

If you remember Jess Merriweather, then the story of a girl being in a guy’s world will not be unfamiliar to you. Like Jess (equipment manager for the East Dillon Lions), Jordan Woods is deep in with her high school football team. But she’s not just the equipment manager: she’s the quarterback and captain! She’s working toward a scholarship and to her, that’s the most important thing. Driven and goal-oriented, just like Jess, she knows what she wants and how to get it. But something - or rather someone - could stand in her way. When Ty Green starts at her school, her entire future is threatened. It turns out that Ty is also a quarterback, and a pretty good one at that. So even though Jordan can’t deny her attraction to him, the truth is that he could ruin everything. The pressure is high, and Jordan has to do what she can to keep her place on the team and keep her (wandering) eye on the prize.

First & Then by Emma Mills

First & Then by Emma Mills

Told from the disaffected perspective of teen Devon Tennyson, First & Then has been called a mix of Pride and Prejudice and Friday Night Lights. So if you like either of those two, you know this is right up your alley. Devon, for her part, has got the smarts of Julie Taylor, the sassiness of Tyra Collette, a pretty undeniable crush on her best friend Cas, whom she watches regularly at the school’s friday night football games, a great love of Jane Austen, and a little bit of an apathetic streak to boot.  Soon into the story, Devon is confronted not only with her younger (stranger) cousin, Foster, who moves in with her and her family unexpectedly, and a very Darcy-esque (read: attractive, superior) running back named Ezra, both in her P.E. class at school. When Foster turns out to have quite the kicking talent, and because of it, Devon finds herself spending a lot of time with Ezra, all of her well laid plans of sitting back and letting life happen to her come to a sudden screeching halt.

Until Friday Night by Abbie Glines

Until Friday Night (The Field Party #1) by Abbi Glines

There was never any shortage of heartbreak on Friday Night Lights, and this story is no different. West Ashby and Maggie Carleton are two characters who, unbeknownst to them, are both struggling with tragic, complex histories. West is the star of his football team, handsome, well-liked, and credited with single handedly bringing his team the state championship. But his father is dying of cancer, and while he silently struggles, Maggie is dealing with heartbreak of her very own. Two years prior, her father killed her mother. She hasn’t spoken since. Both Maggie and West are unable to talk about the very things that are bringing them to their knees. That is, until they find each other. West knows Maggie won’t say anything, so he takes a chance and he tells her everything. Much to his surprise, Maggie responds, finally speaking for the first time since her mother’s death. From this moment, Maggie and West form an unbreakable bond.

The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan

The Game Plan (Game On #3) by Kristen Callihan

I’m sure a lot of you will be happy to see a title on the list that is not set in a high school, despite that being FNL’s playing ground. The Game Plan by Kristen Callahan on the other hand, jumps a few years forward. Ethan Dexter is a tattooed, bearded center for the NFL… and he’s a virgin? If that doesn’t sound right to you, then you and Fiona Mackenzie have something in common, because this girl just doesn’t quite believe it either. Fi knows Dex because her sister is married to his best friend, and she has never quite gotten Dex pegged. And when Dex sets his sights on her, despite the fact that they don’t even live in the same city, she’s pretty much reduced to a bowl full of jelly despite herself. And who wouldn’t be? I mean really? But the real question is: how long will it be until Dex can convince Fi that they are meant to be?

Learn more about or order a copy of the books mentioned in this post: 

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally  
First & Then by Emma Mills  
Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines  
The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan  





KC is a first-time blogger, long-time Pacey/Joey fan. She's worked in libraries for over ten years and is an avid reader and lover of all book-ish things. (Also TV-ish things, movie-ish things, and thing-ish things in general.) You can oftentimes find her humming the soundtrack to Hamilton while walking her dog, listening to podcasts, or cooking up something yummy and healthy in her kitchen.


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