Friday, March 23, 2012

Playing Hurt

Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler
Flux, 2011
303 pages
YA; Contemporary; Romance
3/5 stars

Source: Library

Having read A Blue So Dark, I was eager to read more of Schindler's work especially as she is a contemporary writer, my beloved genre within the YA category. Thus I was so excited to discover that my library had purchased this novel. I really liked the idea of a story featuring two athletes without being all about sports. Bonus factor: the story is told in alternating chapters from each perspective-I love that!

Our first narrator is Chelsea Keyes, former basketball star who suffered a hip injury at the beginning of the season of her senior year. She struggles with the gap in her life and with her status as "former." Luckily she has sweet, perfect boyfriend Gabe who has stuck by her. But they're about to have three weeks apart when her family goes to Minnesota for a vacation and Chelsea's father enrolls her in a boot camp headed by Clint.

Clint is our other narrator, a former hockey player who gave up the sport after the death of his girlfriend and has remained emotionally distant since that event two years earlier. When they meet, they are immediately attracted to each other but fight it, launching some nasty barbs at each other. But their passion is too much to deny and soon they are sneaking around, desperate to spend as much time together as they can until the end of Chelsea's vacation.

Of course the writing was fabulous, exactly what I was expecting based on my previous reading of Schindler.  The main characters have depth and challenge each other in exciting ways. The setting is also really cool as they get to enjoy a beautiful summer in Minnesota.

But there were quite a few things that I didn't like. First was the number of times each character mentioned the other's physical appearance. I get it, they're good-looking and they know that about each other. I was so tired of hearing about Chelsea's gorgeous long legs and blonde hair and Clint's hair and toned physique by the end of the book. I also wished there had been a bit more about the families of the characters especially Chelsea's brother, an amazing bass player. Chelsea's relationship with her father is touched upon; their relationship became troubled after Chelsea's injury but her mother receives little page time. I was actually very surprised by that because the family plays a bigger role in the beginning before being squeezed out in favor of the romantic relationship.

But what I disliked the most was the cheating. Now I love romance books and have read a good number of them but I try to avoid ones where one person is involved with someone else while falling for their true love. I will not cheer for that romance and it will inevitably lower my opinion of the characters and the book as a whole, as happened in this case. Chelsea tries to brush it off as a summer fling, something everyone does (the lengths people go to for self-justification!) Clint, for his part, doesn't even seem that bothered that Chelsea isn't willing to drop Gabe for him, content with savoring their time together. Then Chelsea returns home for an ugly confrontation with Gabe. Neither is perfect but given that Chelsea CHEATED, she is immediately discredited in my opinion. She lashes out at Gabe but it is his words that I give weight to and it left an icky taste in my mouth. I could have handled Chelsea dumping Gabe over the phone (which is what I was expecting) before her consummation of her relationship with Clint.

Content warning: Sexual situations; recommended for more mature readers of YA.

Overall: The cheating plot substantially lowered my rating of this book as the writing is amazing and the two main characters are vividly drawn.


  1. I love reading books that have alternating perspectives in them too! Especially if the narrators are as different as Chelsea and Clint sound because it's easier to tell them apart :) But I know what you mean about not enough family involved in a lot of books! In most YA nowadays, it's almost as if the main characters were born without parents LOL! x)

    Amazing review as always, B! <3 This may not have impressed you as much as A Blue So Dark did, but it still sounds really sweet! :)

  2. This one looks great - I didn't love A Blue So Dark, but this one sounds like it would be more up my ally.


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