Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Game Plan

Rate this book
"Poignant, well-paced and compassionate, Game Plan is an achingly real look at how two families cope when life doesn't go as planned." — Tish Cohen, bestselling author of The Truth About Delilah Blue and Inside Out Girl.

Just because the play goes wrong, doesn't mean you quit the game.

Ella Parker seems to have everything: great friends, an awesome family and a star position on her high school basketball team. The only thing missing from her life is a boyfriend. That changes once she catches the eye of Sam Cleveland. With Sam by her side Ella has it all. When a drunken night results in an unwanted pregnancy, her perfect life is turned upside down and she’s faced with an impossible decision.

Katherine Frayne has always wanted to be a mother. But with the last results of her in vitro fertilization pointing to no chance of a baby, her hopes are dashed. Then her husband Danny suggests they adopt. At first Kat is resistant, but she soon warms to the idea.

Ella and Katherine must navigate their lives amidst tough decisions, the consequences of which not only affect them but those they love the most.

T - Teen 13 and up: May contain violence, crude humour, suggestive themes and/or strong language.
Alcohol - Reference to alcohol use
Language - Mild language
Mature Humour - Jokes of a mature nature, including sexual jokes
Sexual Content - Mention or description of sex or a sexual act

362 pages, Paperback

First published November 17, 2013

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Natalie Corbett Sampson

8 books51 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
22 (36%)
4 stars
28 (46%)
3 stars
7 (11%)
2 stars
3 (5%)
1 star
0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 28 of 28 reviews
Profile Image for Kate.
827 reviews32 followers
November 14, 2013
Teenage pregnancies and adoption at times may be considered controversial but in Natalie Corbett Sampson handles them beautifully in her debut novel, Game Plan.

Seventeen year old Ella Parker has a plan – to get a basketball scholarship to college. And she’s on track to get there too. There are scouts coming to her games and she’s never been in better form. But then she meets Sam Cleveland. He’s gorgeous and the first boy to ever take an interest in her. Will one drunken accident change every plan Ella’s ever made for herself?

Katherine and Danny Frayne have been married for seven years and trying for a baby for most of them. Unable to conceive naturally, they start looking into the adoption process and find it can be heartbreaking and seemingly hopeless at times.

The contrast between the two stories was beautifully executed. Ella is a girl who never expected to be a pregnant teenager. She’s a good student, never caused her parents any worry and is dedicated to her sport. Her distress at her situation is palpable and understandable. Katherine on the other hand has a deep instinctual need to be a mother. She feels like there’s something missing in her life without a baby and is desperate to do whatever she can to fill that need. I liked her scepticism regarding the adoption process. She’s passionate about becoming a mother but I admired that she didn’t let it completely take over her life.

Plot wise – there aren’t a lot of surprises. But that isn’t a problem. This story’s strengths lay in the honest way the characters deal with their situations and how their real their emotions feel. Both Ella and Katherine are heartbroken but for almost opposite reasons. Ella’s interactions with Sam felt relatable for many people – both in the upswing of the relationship and the way they reacted to the unplanned pregnancy.

I enjoyed reading this book and seeing how Ella and Katherine dealt with the tough situations life handed them. It was a beautiful read and I look forward to reading more from Natalie Corbett Sampson.
Profile Image for Lee (Rally the Readers).
321 reviews51 followers
November 27, 2013
Also posted on Rally the Readers.

* A copy was provided for review for a blog tour.

If you’ve happened to read reviews for some of my less than successful attempts at reading realistic fiction, you might recall that the contemporary genre has to work rather hard to command my reading attention. Game Plan caught my eye because of the opportunity to view its narrative from two perspectives—that of Ella, a pregnant teenager, and Katherine and Danny, a childless couple hoping to adopt. I thought it would be interesting to see how their lives converged, and I wasn’t disappointed with that aspect of the novel. There’s certainly a touching story here, and in a book packed with so much emotion, I think it’s careful not to come off as cloying. I did have a few minor issues with the book, but they weren’t enough to lessen the story’s impact.

The novel’s pacing is something I struggled with occasionally. Game Plan chronicles almost a year in the lives of its three main characters, and there were times when I felt that the month-by-month format was a bit too much. It takes Ella quite a while to realize she’s pregnant, and then it’s an even longer wait page-wise until she gives birth. While the book maintained my interest throughout, there were spots where its momentum seemed to stall. The later chapters moved at a steadier speed, and they were the most absorbing to read.

It also took me some time to warm up to Ella. In the beginning, I was frustrated with her because she couldn’t see that Sam, the father of her baby, wasn’t exactly decent boyfriend material from the get-go. There was something about him that made me dislike him instantly, and with every subsequent chapter, his actions only sank my opinion of him lower and lower. I was also bothered by Ella’s inability to see how fake and shallow her “friend” Karen was until Karen blatantly turned on her. I do have to say that Ella matures significantly over the course of the novel and is a much wiser character by the end of it.

For me, the emotional center of the book was Katherine and Danny’s story. Their struggle to become parents is just heartbreaking. They go through an anguishing cycle of being considered as adoptive parents only to receive the call that they were not the couple chosen. Each disappointment edges them closer to their breaking point, which is gut-wrenching to see. Whereas I felt that Ella’s side of the narrative sometimes became sidetracked in subplots, such as her developing romantic relationship with Charlie, her brother’s longtime best friend, I thought Katherine and Danny’s tale was more tightly focused and flowed smoother.

Overall, Game Plan was a satisfying read that explored some heavy topics without turning into one big cliché. Including the view of prospective adoptive parents in a novel about teen pregnancy was a definite asset and what I liked most about the book.
Profile Image for Tara.
17 reviews2 followers
February 16, 2014
I loved this story.

If you wish to be immediately transported back to high school, including all of the angst, emotion, uncertainty, and joy that goes along with being a seventeen year old girl, then this book is an excellent choice for you.

If you have wished for the chance to fulfill your destiny and become a parent, give all that you can to a brand new living being who needs all the love and support you can give to him or her, then this book is also for you.

Within the initial chapters of the story, you will either feel kinship or immediate identification with the protagonist. Ella is the type of girl we either were, wished to be like, or knew well during our school days. Her journey throughout the novel is one that we all knew well (were warned against by our parents), and hopefully admired for her maturity and responsibility, after the fall-out of a potentially rash decision all growing adolescents are faced with. There is so much familiar in Ella to those we all know, that it forces the reader to immediately root for the champion-turned-underdog in this narrative. The decisions to be faced by a girl forced to act as adult are heart-wrenching and soul-twisting for any woman who remembers those tender, longing, confusing teenage years. While the longing, desire, and emptiness of a hopeful mother left childless burns through the pages, allowing the reader to wish to fill the empty nursery in a couple's loving, wanting home.

Sampson includes such an accurate feeling of pride in ability, vulnerability of character, and regret in unthinking-decisions, that the reader cannot help but recall how it feels to be on the brink of adulthood, yet remaining a child in everyone else's eyes. Her connection to both the main character, Ella, as well as the alternate main, Katherine, who wishes desperately for a child that has yet to come, is apparent in every paragraph. Sampson's feel for both struggling child and yearning adult is remarkable; her ability to bring to life the terrifying reality of teenage pregnancy, as well as the (potentially) shameful realization of childless adulthood is plain. Kudos to Natalie Corbett Sampson for bringing both to light in the same novel. I highly recommend this novel.
Profile Image for Barb.
Author 5 books59 followers
May 9, 2014
A basketball playbook is the metaphor for everything Ella and Katherine wish they had for their lives. Ella is a high-school student who craves security and predictability. Katherine is a married professional woman who has faced the heartbreak of infertility for 5 years. Ella's unplanned pregnancy causes their stories to intertwine as the two women face the unknown in their lives.

Author Natalie Corbett Sampson portrays the two main characters well, along with many of the characters who have supporting roles in the story. The reader feels the ache of their emotions, their fears and disappointments, and wants what's best for both of them, even though there will be pain involved.

This novel highlights both sides of the adoption process; while the story's premise seems familiar, the treatment of this premise covers new and important ground. This book is a celebration of new life, sacrifice and understanding.

(And while you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, the cover art for this novel is perfect for the story!)
Profile Image for Natalie Sampson.
Author 8 books51 followers
March 27, 2016
Yes, I gave my own book five stars. Because I love it. If I didn't love it, it would be hard to put it out there and ask others to read it too.

My favourite part of this book is the relationships between the characters, my favourite parts to write and to reread are the scenes between two or three of the characters when they are quiet together, chatting, playing ball, studying. I love the idea of comfortable silence.

This book is filled with the emotions drawn from the adoption of my littlest (who is quickly becoming not so little any more). While our journeys towards each other were very different than the details in this book the emotions, impulses, fears are the same.
Profile Image for Alison DeLory.
Author 5 books22 followers
December 9, 2013
The issue of teen pregnancy in current times is addressed so believably in this fine book. For a middle-class girl still in high school, it has widespread consequences that threaten her reputation and her future. The characterization of teen boys and girls seemed very real and honest. The parallel story of the couple considering adoption points the reader to what seems like it could be an obvious solution to both dilemmas, but of course the process of giving up/adopting a child is an emotional and logistical minefield that Corbett Sampson explores with sensitivity and good pacing.
February 6, 2015
Game Plan shines a bright light on complex, emotional issues like infertility, teenage pregnancy and adoption. Natalie Corbett Sampson introduces us to two strong and very likeable main characters: Ella and Katherine. Their journeys were beautifully narrated and I went along for the ride; feeling emotionally spent when it was all done and left wanting more. There was so much love in this book from the support that Ella’s family showed to the tender relationship between Katherine and Danny that I couldn’t help but smile through the tears. Loved it!
Profile Image for Christian.
166 reviews2 followers
August 15, 2014
A fantastic slice-of-life that pulls you in from the first page. This is the kind of book they stays with you and has you thinking about the characters long after the last page.
Profile Image for ✨Cassie ✨.
528 reviews5 followers
February 26, 2014
Ella had everything going for her that a teenage girl could possible want, great family, friends and being a star basketball player. But, with one desion your whole life can change in a blink. Can Ella get her life back on track, or will she lose it all forever? Not everything was in her play book, or goes according to the game plan.
Dan and Kat just wants one simple thing, to have a family of their very own. Can two different lives come together and each heal the others broken heart?
Ella a high school student who eat, sleep and breathes basketball was ready for the new season, to show everyone what she was made of. If it all worked out, she could be spotted by a scout and her life would be planned out.
With everything going just how she wanted it, a guy named Sam, one of the top players from the guy's basketball team stars showing intrest in her. Ella, who has never been on a date, is over the moon. But with one drunken night on Halloween, Ella vers off her course and her life will forever be changed.
Having three choices, abortion, adoption, or raising a child that Sam didn't want, Ella is faced with a tough desision.
With friends abanding her, basketball taking a backseat to her growing belly and an unexpected love, can Ella make the right desision for her and her baby?
Danny and Kat have been trying for years to have a baby of thier own, with one last failed try, their spirit nor heart could take the heartbreak anymore. Deciding adoption is the way they should go, they dive in with everything they have.
Knowing that there is a speical raven haired baby just like in her dreams, Kat will not give up even when around every corner life throws a curve ball.
Ella's one mistake could be someone else's blessing
Tought desisions, lost love, forever heartache and an unbarable choice....eveyone's life will be changed.
A book about second chances, love, and tough desisions.
Game plan is such an amazing book, it sucked me in from the very beginning and didn't let me go until the last page. I shead a few tears for the heartache Ella was
facing and wanted to tell her everything would be alright. We are shown two side to the story, the side of the teenage mom and that one of a family doing anything
they can to have a child in their life. Game Plan is the first book I've read that had to dealt with this subject matter and the author knows how to pull you in and
keeps you hanging on. The story intertwines just right and doesn't have you bouncing around. The charaters are loveable, but there are a few that I just wanted to slap
for the pain they were causing Ella. Even after I turned off my Kindle, I still couldn't stop thinking about this book. I know I'm a sucker for alway's wanting another
one to follow, but in this case I seriously do. I need to see where Ella's life takes her, I need it. I give this book 5 stars!!
Profile Image for Cait.
250 reviews15 followers
August 24, 2015
Originally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 star rating.

Game Plan by Natalie Corbett Sampson is an enthralling, emotional trek through a teen girls experience with an unplanned pregnancy and a couples desire for a child of their own. Through alternating narratives, Ella’s and Katherine and Danny’s lives slowly converge to a heartbreaking but heartwarming conclusion.

In the beginning, I was worried I’d have flashbacks to the movie Juno while reading this book, but that is definitely not the case! The two couldn’t be more different. Ella is a junior in high school. A talented basketball player, she has a plan for how her life is going to unfold in the next few years. Unfortunately, after Halloween night and her only time having sex with her boyfriend Sam, Ella finds herself pregnant. Everything is immediately turned upside down for Ella, but she handles everything with an inner strength that everyone can see but she doubts she has. With a supportive family and some great friends, Ella makes some very grown up decisions and comes through the other side intact and maybe even a bit stronger. Katherine and Danny, having failed again at trying to have a child of their own decide to go the route of adoption. After many ups and downs that test their resolve, they finally have a silver lining in Ella and her baby.

I very much enjoyed Natalie Corbett Sampsons writing style and characterization. The narrative flowed very well, with months of the pregnancy outlined by major events in the characters lives as Ella finishes school, handles a less than ideal situation surrounding Sam, and Katherine and Danny struggle to adopt a child. One of Ella’s friends, Karen, irked me a little. Let’s just say she’s a less than good friend and I just don’t understand people like that (though I know they exist). Alex, her brother Ben and Ben’s best friend Charlie, on the other hand, certainly make up for Karen and others. They are absolutely awesome.

Game Plan is very emotional, and while I have never gone through either trying to adopt a child, or trying to decide to give one up, I feel the book really highlights the experiences and emotions involved and handles both with care. By the end of the book I was as torn as Ella in deciding what to do, but anxiously nervous with Katherine and Danny and hoping everything would work for them. It’s an interesting feeling and one that just made me enjoy the book more. I definitely think this is a great one to add to your reading list, especially if you’re a fan of contemporary fiction. Well worth the read!
Profile Image for Susan Corbett.
5 reviews2 followers
December 13, 2013
I really enjoyed the book Game Plan. The first chapter where the characters, setting, etc were being introduced was a bit long but as soon as the novel got into the plots, it moved well.

I enjoyed the diverse characters. They were developed well and this is why they seemed real. They seemed like folks who could live next door to you. I loved the realstionships that existed between some of the characters. At one minute I would be laughing at something said between two characters and angry at comments made by others.

The plots intertwined well. Around pages 68 to 70 there was an excellent example of foreshadowing... related to the van with the flower sign. That "sticks" in my mind as one of the highlights of the book. I felt the pain of the characters waiting for a child as well as the trepidation of the pregnant teen. It was a forgone conclusion that the two plots would at some time come together but it was thrilling to see it happen. As one kept reading it was a "Is it going to happen now?" kind of mind set.

I cried during the last 65+ pages of the book so be ready with plenty of kleenex!

Overall, I loved the book and I would have given it a 5/5 if it had not been for the long first chapter.
August 14, 2014
I loved this book...it was slow at the beginning but then totally captured me so much that I couldn't put it down.
I loved the relationships and how they developed.
It portrayed the dilemma faced by this young girl and also by the
couple who were trying to adopt a baby in a very captivating and also a very understanding way .
Both perspectives were developed in a way that made me feel the strong emotions that they were going through and it felt so real that it almost didn't feel like fiction.
A job well done and I look forward to more of Natalie Corbett Sampson'sbooks!!
Profile Image for Janet Cameron.
Author 1 book37 followers
July 1, 2017
Beautifully told story of a strong young woman with a very difficult choice to make. The pacing is perfect, drawing you into the characters' lives, and I loved the scenes where the kids are just hanging out or playing basketball together. (That's saying a lot as I tend to avoid anything sports-related.) But the real strength of this novel is the characters and the author's respect for them. Ella is someone who will stay with me for a long time. Great book, for all ages and not just teenagers.
Profile Image for Angela Misri.
Author 11 books108 followers
May 9, 2014
Wow, I finished Game Plan in one evening - started right after supper and literally couldn't put it down. Great characters, amazing insight into the teenage world we all kind of remember but kind of wish we didn't and a very sweet but realistic ending. Also, really liked the movement back and forth between the two protagonists - very smooth - I want to try writing in that style someday!
Profile Image for Kay.
76 reviews2 followers
August 18, 2015
Ella and Katherine's journey is an emotional rollercoaster fully of laughs, tears for sure, anxiety, and relief.

This is a story that makes you appreciate all of the good things, the mistakes, and the little bits of fate that make us who we are.

A must read.
Profile Image for Carol Moreira.
Author 6 books10 followers
December 10, 2013
An emotional novel that cleverly blends the storylines of an accidentally pregnant teen and a couple longing for a child. Believable characters and relationships immerse the reader in the characters' lives and problems. It is probably impossible to read this book without shedding tears.
Profile Image for Natalie Joan.
166 reviews7 followers
November 20, 2013
Yes I did read it in a day. Couldn't stop. Excellent. May have cried a little. (May have cried a lot.)
Whether you are deadline with infertility, adoption, or unplanned pregnancy, or just want to understand the struggles of those who are, this is an excellent read.
3 reviews1 follower
January 28, 2014
I stayed up late to finish this story. A moving story about 2 women, one who decides to adopt a child, and one who decides to give a child for adoption. I liked the complexity of the event, viewed from 2 sides. Very compelling!
1 review1 follower
February 9, 2014
The characters and the dialog were great. The story was well constructed and interesting. I enjoyed the two perspectives and felt I could relate to both. I find myself wondering how the story would continue to play out in the future for these characters.
Profile Image for Amanda.
17 reviews
October 16, 2015
This book was a page turner, I could not put it down. It was so well written that there were times I got caught up in the emotions the characters were feeling. I read this book in like 24 hours because I just could not put it down. Can't wait to read her other book.
Profile Image for Ellen.
Author 2 books72 followers
August 14, 2014
A gently told story that's really a love letter to life and love itself. A great read for teens.
1 review
January 25, 2015
I loved this story, the characters were real and interesting. Don't read in a public place if you don't want to cry!
2 reviews2 followers
February 19, 2015
Great book! I couldn't put it down. I got so involved in the lives of these characters. Very interesting to see the different sides of such a difficult decision. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Annabelle.
372 reviews4 followers
April 22, 2019
I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary fiction, but I went through a phase at Uni where I read every single ‘teenage pregnancy’ novel I could get my hands on. I was writing a story centred around a pregnant teenager at the time, so it was required reading for my course. Since then, any books featuring pregnant teens have a sort of nostalgic feel to me, making me inclined to like them despite my general lack of interest in contemporary YA.

Of course, my comprehensive knowledge of YA pregnancy fiction meant there were very few surprises in store. Initially the book read very much like a novelisation of Juno: Ella, a teen not lacking a bit of attitude, finds herself pregnant. Meanwhile a young couple are looking to adopt. But the similarities end there, and Game Plan manages to keep the familiar plot tropes fresh.

I was a little annoyed with Ella at times. It took her a long time to realise Sam wasn’t exactly going to win prizes for ‘Boyfriend of the month’, but her reactions to events did seem realistic, even when they were making me want to shake her. The interactions between characters and their responses to their emotional situations always struck me as particularly true to life.

Game Plan was an absorbing read, with prose that sucked me in until that ‘few pages’ I was going to read turned into sitting up until midnight with my nose glued to my kindle. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done a hundred times before, but sometimes that comfortable, familiar tale can be just what you need on a chilly winter night!
Profile Image for Susan Barton.
Author 6 books93 followers
August 9, 2017
Ella Parker is a popular teen, with plenty of friends and activities to occupy her time. She’s been a tomboy most of her life and enjoys playing sports. The one thing Ella would like to add to her otherwise happy life is a boyfriend. When she begins dating Sam, things change quickly and Ella finds herself in a difficult position.

This is a quick and interesting read. I enjoyed the way the author handled the teen pregnancy aspect of Game Plan – it truly comes across as genuine and sincere. The book has a positive message for both teens and adults.

One very minor thing I was surprised about was that the book is categorized under “Children’s Books”. This is definitely not what I would consider a children’s book – it’s much more of a YA book, geared toward teens and adults. However, it’s definitely worth the read and I look forward to reading more from this author!
9 reviews
November 16, 2014
Natalie Corbett Sampson did a wonderful job telling the story of a young girl left with a very tough decision. Her ability to show both sides of an adoption story really made me understand, and feel, all of the complexities and emotions involved in such a difficult situation. Seeing from the adoptive parent's side that "her joy was born form someone else's pain" is a great example.

The support from family and friends that Ella received was so inspiring. My favourite line was from Charlie : "the rest of the team will just have to step up".

The characters and feelings in the story were very real to me and the author made me feel like I was a part of their journey. I was able to understand their difficulties and many parts brought tears to my eyes.
I look forward to sharing this book with friends and my students.

Game Plan
Profile Image for Paula Montgomery.
8 reviews2 followers
April 17, 2014
Wow - Game Plan took me back to high school and all the memories of "where will we go after high school". The author also took me down a road to make me appreciate all the women who have given babies up for adoption. I must say I cried a few tears for both women in the story! Once Ells opened her eyes about Sam she did the right thing! Once you pick this up you won't be able to put it down!!!
Displaying 1 - 28 of 28 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.