Saturday, January 7, 2012

Review: Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler

Title: Playing Hurt
Author: Holly Schindler
Published: March 2011 (Flux)
Rating: 4/5
Summary: Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college-and everyone's admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea's dad springs for a three-week summer "boot camp" program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she's immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who's haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain-or finally heal their heartbreak?

My Review: This morning, I had a tire blowout and had to go to Walmart to get a tire replacement (insert the sound of my wallet weeping in protest). Thankfully, I had Playing Hurt with me in my purse, so I wound up reading the majority of it on a bench in Walmart, waiting for them to finish fixing my car, Fitzwilliam.

Playing Hurt was a great book to be stuck with. I was immediately transported to the beautiful Minnesota summer and immersed in the issues surrounding Chelsea and Clint. Schindler portrayed both characters and their struggles very well; I felt for them both. The entire book was realistic, actually, which was probably my favorite thing about it. Everyone had their own problems and albatrosses, some more difficult to overcome than others. I loved reading about the journeys to overcome these. Of course, I was rooting for Chelsea and Clint the entire time. They had some great chemistry! Also, Chelsea's little brother was the perfect combination of obnoxious, concerned, and funny. I really enjoyed him.

[vague spoilers ahead]My one turn off in the whole story was that Chelsea seemingly had next to no remorse whatsoever for having feelings for Clint while she still had a boyfriend. She brought Gabe (the boyfriend) up when she was fighting her initial reaction to Clint, but it seemed more like a convenient excuse for the fact that she didn't want to be feeling something that intense, period. The boyfriend factor had nothing to do with it. Once she realized she did have those feelings and they weren't going to go away, Gabe was barely in her thoughts at all. Funnily enough, this bothered me during the reading, but now that I'm thinking about it and trying to voice my thoughts, I'm realizing that I understand her motivations a lot more than I thought I did. To commiserate and to angst about it would only bring her down because she obviously knew what the problem was. Chelsea simply made a conscious decision to ignore the problem and make the best of the situation she had in front of her, dealing with the consequences later. This is not a philosophy I frequently embrace, but I can see the appeal.[/end spoilers]

The only other thing negative thing I can think of to say is that I dislike the name Clint, so I didn't particularly enjoy that being the hero's name. But that's really more of a personal problem, LOL.

One thing I grew to appreciate throughout the course of the book was Schindler's writing style. It was different, but in a good way. She frequently used the strangest metaphors that seemed incredibly random when you first read them, but then you realized that while they weren't normal, they were usually things the character might actually think. Take this one, for example.

Clint grins at me, his smile tearing at the tension in the room the same way two forks pull apart a dense angel food cake.

When you first see that, you think, ...Um, who would actually say that in her head? Then you realize, Oh. Someone who had spent a large portion of her life in a bakery. Like Chelsea. Even though they're a little out there, they work.

In contrast to this, there were also times when she was just spot-on, accurately pin-pointing the exact way a person felt with words sharp and concise and so accurate it made you lose your breath. This was particularly obvious when Chelsea and Clint first met and interacted together and were fighting against the way they each immediately reacted to the other.

Lightning flows through me at his touch. So help me God, lightning.

I would definitely recommend this book if you are looking for a solid, enjoyable, realistic-but-still-romantic read. 4 stars!

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