Monday, April 25, 2011

Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler

Published: March 8, 2011 by Flux
Received: I Read Banned Books book tour - thanks Jen!
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? {taken from}

I marked this book to read awhile back after that stunning cover grabbed my attention.  Then when I read the synopsis for it: broken girl meets beautiful broken boy? at a summer lake resort? Sign me up!  And I did just that - I signed up on Jen's I Read Banned Books tour :-)  I was delighted when my copy arrived in the mail. 

The story begins inside the mind of Chelsea, a high school athlete who played her last basketball game a little too soon.  Due to an accident on the court & years of pressing herself too hard she has been forced to sit on the sidelines.  Now she feels as though she is sitting out on her entire life, watching as it goes by.  As her senior year comes to a close she is reminded by her family & boyfriend Gabe that her life has now taken a different course.  She will no longer be playing college basketball & she is no longer the spotlight of her small town.  As the summer approaches, Chelsea's family decide to spend a few weeks at a summer lake resort.  They feel it's a good place to unwind from the past year's events & to reconnect as a family.  Little does Chelsea know this summer will be the change that starts it all.

The story is told in alternating voices.  Clint is a 19 year old college kid who works at the summer lake resort to occupy his time so that he is not forced to remember past accidents.  Accidents that involved the death of his girlfriend and the turmoil it has spun him in ever since.  He uses the lake & his family's restaurant to keep him busy.  The last thing on his mind is meeting someone new & starting a relationship, but as soon as Chelsea arrives at the lake resort all those thoughts vanish.  He is feeling things that he swore he'd never feel again.  Immediately the two are drawn to one another.  Clint is assigned as Chelsea's trainer while she is staying at the lake.  Her father thought it would be a good idea to get Chelsea moving again.  But training is not what's on the agenda.  Forbidden lust grows between the two teenagers & soon the hot smoldering sun that has been set long behind the horizon is still sizzling on the surface between Clint & Chelsea.

As the reader you are drawn to Clint & you want to see this broken boy smile again.  It is Chelsea who is bringing him out of his shell & allowing him to experience life again, the way he is meant to.  However, it was difficult for me to completely lose myself in their relationship because in the back of my mind I am remembering one small detail: Gabe, Chelsea's boyfriend for whom she has left at home all summer.  I am not one to condone cheating.  I understand that teenagers make mistakes, they are YOUNG after all.  However, I did not agree with Chelsea's attitude.  The "out of sight, out of mind" theory kept arising.  Clint was well aware of Chelsea's relationship with Gabe, yet he pursued her anyway.  That did not sit well with me either.  I understand this story was about taking chances & not being afraid to move forward; however, I did not agree with the way these two teenagers were choosing to do so.

There were parts of the story that I felt were a bit too mature for the teenage reader as well.  The sexual content in the book is regarded well; however, I am not sure it was always appropriate either.  I remember being 18 years old and the thoughts that entered these two teens minds did not portray their age very well.  I just felt like, Clint especially, was beyond his age.  The setting for this story was a beautiful back drop though.  I loved imagining the lake, the wildflowers, the fields beyond.  The description was spot on, in my opinion.  It left me feeling as though I wanted to take a summer vacation to the lake!

Though this book is not a favorite of mine when it comes to YA contemps, I still want to read more by Holly Schindler.  Her writing came across seamless & flowed well through out.  I'd be curious to read something by her meant for an older audience, though.  Her words had a more mature tone to it that I feel would sit well with a young 20-something-year-old.  Perhaps we could revisit Chelsea & Clint after their college years?  I'm always up for pitching new story ideas! Ha!



  1. Great review Ginger! I've been sort of wanting to read this one, but after our conversation and reading your review here, I don't know that it's going to be a priority for me. I'm much more drawn to her debut novel.

  2. You're right -- I think it may have worked better if Chelsea and Clint weren't teens but say, in their twenties. I felt sorry for Gabe the entire time, and I didn't see the logic in Chelsea's argument with him before they ended their relationship.

    I felt a bit bad when I didn't like this book since my copy came from a tour, too! But oh well. Great review, Ginger. :)

  3. Can't wait for my own tour copy to get here! Sounds like a solid read for the most part.

  4. You write very eloquent and informative reviews :)

    I'm a little sad you didn't love this book. It's one that I have been really looking forward to, and I hate that it didn't live up to your expectations.

  5. Great honest review Ginger, I had this one on my list to read too. I'm still interested in reading it though, but it will probably be a while before I do and I might just borrow it from the library.

  6. I can't wait to read this when it comes home. I'm interested in what I will think of the sexual content. I have two teenagers and boy oh boy.....they know WAY more than I did at their age. Maybe times have changed - I blame Apple and rap music. ;)

    Thx for reading. I always love when you sign up!


  7. I'm curious as to how I'm going to think of the cheating and the sexual content. Usually that stuff doesn't bother me whatsoever. From what I'm seeing you're either okay with it or you aren't. Thanks for the great review!


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