Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bookanista Thursday: Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler

The first Bookanista review I did was for Holly Shindler's gorgeous debut, A BLUE SO DARK, which stunned me with its voice and the sheer beauty of the writing.  So you can imagine how excited I was when I heard she had a second book coming out!  You can also imagine how high my expectations were  after being so impressed the first time around.  Today, I'm so, so happy to say that Holly totally exceeded my expectations. PLAYING HURT is an entirely different kind of book than A BLUE SO DARK, but once again, she gives us a beautifully crafted contemporary full of grace and depth.

From Goodreads:

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?

My Thoughts:

Everything I read about this book before it came out called it a "summer romance,"--which there is plenty of, believe me. Delicious, steamy romance.  But I think categorizing this book as only that is selling it short. Holly writes at a depth way below the surface, and that's what I loved most about this story of loss and healing between two ex-athletes.

PLAYING HURT is told in the alternating viewpoints of Clint and Chelsea, which is irresistably fun on the romance front.  I don't think there's a single one of us around who hasn't wished we knew what our love interest was thinking.  Schindler gives us that luxury, allowing us to fall for Clint in all his gorgeousness even quicker than Chelsea does.  And in Chelsea, we get to experience that fluttery feeling of falling that's impossible to fight.     

The other thing using alternating viewpoints accomplishes is to show us the similarities between Chelsea and Clint before they recognize them themselves.  Both have experienced painful losses and are in search of their identities in light of those losses.  When they finally let their guard down around each other and move beyond their crazy physical attraction, they're able to help each other toward healing.

In PLAYING HURT, Holly Schindler accomplishes what I admire most about my favorite contemporary stories.  She writes a careful balance of gorgeous prose, fluid plot, and engaging characters who have true emotional depth.  If you're in the mood for a perfect summer romance that's more than a summer romance, you need to read this book.  I thought about doing a giveaway with my copy, but the truth is, I love this one too much to part with it.  You'll just have to pick it up, find a comfy spot in the sun, and soak up this beautifully told story.    

But first, you should check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week:

And don't forget--tomorrow is the last day to enter and win the Moonglass-inspired mermaid prize pack here on the blog.  Check it out!


  1. *sigh* I love alternating points of view in a romantic book. Maybe not all the time, but when it suits the story. This sounds like a wonderful lazy-summer-day read.

  2. The Mermaid prize pack is a as good as mine!

  3. Yes yes! I'm in the mood for a perfect summer romance that is more. Just the right timing for me. I love your review. It makes me want to READ NOW.

  4. I read this a few weeks ago. It's amazing. I also read A Blue So Dark. I look forward to reading the author's next YA.