LGBTQ+, Young Adult

Redwood and Ponytail by K. A. Holt | Netgalley Review | Booksmagick

What’s it about?

When Tam meets Kate for the first time she sees in her just another pretty cheerleader with a perfect ponytail and perfect life. Kate only sees the tall volleyball player with a perfect life. The more the two hang out the more the masks they wear in public break away and reveal who the girls are underneath.

What I think about it

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When I read about this book on Netgalley I was immediately intrigued and seeing that it was available to read immediately I thought I’d give it a try. Imagine my surprise when I realised that the book was written in open verse. My second read in a short amount of time that turned out to be written in verse.

The point of view alternates between Tam and Kate and each burst of verse is headlined by their name so the reader isn’t confused as to who is talking at the moment. And even if there were no handy headline, Tam and Kate are so different and unique in their personalities that you’d have no trouble telling them apart.

Tam loves volleyball and her best friend, Levi, whom she spends most of her time with. She is comfortable at school, knows enough people not to be considered a loser and is charming to everyone. Her mother is supporting, understanding and tries to be ‘down with the kids’. Adorable, really.

p. 189

Kate on the other hand seems to have the perfect life: she strives to become the next cheer captain, wears pristine clothes, has a perfect ponytail and good marks. But when she volunteers to be the team’s mascot (a giant falcon) she realises this is what she truly wants to do: be goofy, be free and be herself. It made me hurt to read about Kate’s wishes and how much fun she has as the falcon only for her mother to say that she is being ridiculous and she should focus on becoming cheer captain. Kate’s mother felt like a pageant mom who saw her daughter as a princess who couldn’t be anything less than perfect. To be fair, her mom might have been a ghastly person throughout the book but when it truly mattered, she stood by her daughter, cheer captain or not.

Kate and Tam become friends, spend as much time together as possible and when both girls feel as though there might be more to their friendship, it gets complicated. Kate had just begun to open up, to let loose and be herself when the rumours start. At this point Tam has to fight to not lose her friend, the real Kate she had glimpsed.

I really, really loved this book and I feel like there is no need for a ‘normal’ text. K. A. Holt gets so many feelings and emotions across with just a few lines per character, sometimes their inner monologues merge and I loved it so, so much!


Somehow I was convinced this book had 500 pages so when it ended after a bit over 400 I felt like I had been cheated – by myself and my bad memory. I wanted to read more about Tam and Kate! It was a well-rounded book, had a good, realistic plot and lovely characters. Tam and Kate are so cute together and I really enjoyed how their relationship began as a friendship and only slowly, slowly turned into something more without either of them really noticing. We get love at first sight so often which I personally don’t like which is why I was very happy that in this book the falling in love happened so gradual you barely noticed.


Redwood and Ponytail is a cute story about first love, friendship and family. I adored the inner monologues, the open verse and the main characters. Kate and Tam are so relatable and realistically portrayed, each with their own problems, questions and goals. I would totally read another novel (or open verse book) about them! 10/10 would recommend, also to younger readers who want to read about first queer love.

And the cover matches the book so well! ❤


  • Author: K. A. Holt
  • Pages: 424
  • For Ages: 13 and up
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • Release Date: October 1, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781452172880

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