Monday, April 11, 2011

Review: Playing Hurt, by Holly Schindler

Playing Hurt, by Holly Schindler
Published: March, 8, 2011
Publisher: Flux
ISBN: 9780738722870
Genre: Contemporary YA
Pages: 312
Source: Bought
Series: N/a
Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone's admiration back home. Then she took a horrible fall during senior year. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
That summer, Chelsea's dad hires Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player and "boot camp" trainer, to work with her at a northern Minnesota lake resort. As they grow close, Chelsea finds that Clint's haunted by his own tragedy. Will their romance end up hurting them all over again—or finally heal their heartbreak?

I absolutely love the covers of Holly's books. Not only the pictures, but the feel of them. They feel like silk, and I find myself petting the cover more often than I'd like to admit.

I'm a fan of Holly Schindler's, have been since I read A Blue so Dark. Playing Hurt is very different from Blue, but I still loved them both for their own reasons.

Schindler's characters are so real, it almost makes you wonder if they're the kid down the street. Or that girl from high school. I feel like I know them personally, beyond the end of the book.

In all honesty, I wasn't a fan of Chelsea. In fact, she pretty much drove me insane, and I found myself hoping everything would come crashing down around her, and I kind of smiled when it kind of did. I thought she deserved everything the guys said to her. That isn't a nice way to think, but I couldn't help it. She infuriated me, and made poor decisions, not really considering who it would hurt in the long run. If she were the girl down the street, I'd have to slap some sense into her. Alas, such was impossible. My distaste for her is literally the only thing that brings down my rating of this book. And even then, it isn't by much.

Clint was a great character and I enjoyed watching him grow. I didn't harbor any of the resentment toward him, that I had for Chelsea, although a bit of it was on his shoulders, too. So I probably should have. But I just couldn't. I found myself caring about his story much more than Chelsea's, though both are upsetting. I think it was just Chelsea's actions that made it difficult for me to really empathize with her.

Their fling (though I think it can hardly be described as such, it's such a trivial word) was absolutely adorable. Once they started spending time together, I absolutely devoured Playing Hurt. I loved watching their love for each other blossom, and momentarily forgot about **SPOILER ALERT, ONLY KIND OF NOT REALLY** her boyfriend back home. Ah, and here lies the problem. I can forget about her boyfriend, because he isn't my boyfriend. But the fact that she did, disgusted me. That was my whole problem with her character. Cheating turns me off, no matter the situation.

But, cheating and Chelsea aside, I had absolutely no issues with Playing Hurt. Holly proved once again that she has a fantastic way with words. The writing, the cover, the story (minus the boyfriend back home), the characters (minus the selfish one), the pace, the edge....loved it. (And yeah, I kind of realize what taking away the boyfriend back home would have done to the story, but it doesn't make me like it.)

This part may be too spoilerish, so feel free to highlight if you'd like to read about the ending.
I loved the ending. Some people may not be satisfied with it, but I definitely was. I felt as though there was enough left open for me to imagine a happy ending for them, without having wrapped a pretty bow on it. The characters didn't pull a stop on their lives just to be together. They learned to live through each other, and it leaves just enough hope that someday they will live with each other. I loved it.

I'd recommend Playing Hurt to anyone who enjoys contemporary YA. Between Holly's writing and the characters and relationships she creates, I don't think you'd be able to put it down.

Rating: 4.5/5

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