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?
OPINION: 4 STARS
The Short Version:
Emotional and realistic, Playing Hurt is a stunning blend of coming of age and romance. Alternating perspectives between two equally damaged characters, there is a softness that lurks beneath the two and shines strongly as things progress. With a well paced plot and a very fitting ending, this is definitely a feel good romance with just the right amount of drama and hurt mixed in.
The Extended Version:
Chelsea watches the world go by her, unable to get over losing her ability to play basketball after an accident. Her passion for the sport is clear, despite how much it pains her now, creating an instant source of sympathy for her. With the seemingly perfect boyfriend and now graduating from high school, Chelsea seems to have a lot ahead of her but is still mourning what she’s lost. After meeting Clint, however, there is a renewed fire and vigor in her, bringing out an almost entirely different character, but the shift is handled smoothly and realistically. She holds on to much of her good sense and views, while trying to understand everything new. In some ways, she is highly flawed and even someone to dislike, but in others, there is such a strong empathetic element to her character.
Clint starts out in a similar place as Chelsea, struggling with his own past to overcome, but also undergoing an inexplicable and sudden change once she comes into his life. He is a blend of unsure and eager, and the change he goes through is almost more notable and memorable than Chelsea’s. His appeal is more than physical, a quiet and intriguing yet broken boy who simply needs someone to pull him back to the world.
The passion and intensity between these two flies off the pages, propelling the story in some unimaginable and engaging ways. Though Chelsea has a boyfriend, she is far away from him for three weeks, suddenly experiencing everything that comes with new and budding love. Notably, however, is how lust driven their relationship is, never confusing lust and love and simply experiencing everything they are feeling. From sweet moments to funny and joking, they go through a range of things that get them to the final ending of the book, which fits so perfectly for the situation and everything that unfolds.
Schindler’s writing is gorgeous, having a strong flow and some stunning descriptions. Though the dual perspectives did seem very similar in voice and style, the inner thoughts of both characters still came through in their perspectives. The chapter shifts, overall, had an easy flow to them, never coming off confusing or leaving the reader behind. The scenes shown in each perspective were perfectly picked, and giving plenty of insight from both even within a scene.
This plot is simple in nature but forceful in playout, and Schindler has most definitely laid out a bit of a minefield for her characters. She shows the bad and good of each, painting a very realistic even if frustrating situation, and holding all the heartbreak and hope that comes with it.
Source: ARC Received from publisher in exchange for honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 312 pages
Paperback: 312 pages
Publication Date: March 8, 2011