Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler.
Publication Date: March 2011
List Price: $9.95
Review: Imagine being in high school knowing exactly what your future entails - a full basketball scholarship, a wonderful idolizing boyfriend, a family who is proud of you - what more could you want? Up until one life-altering accident, this is Chelsea Keyes life. After a horrifying fall on the courts, everything Chelsea has come to know as the norm is turned upside down, making her a stranger to her school, her family, and most importantly to herself. Chelsea's search for her identity is beautifully portrayed in Holly Schindler's novel, Playing Hurt .
Chelsea ends her senior year in high school much differently than she'd expected. Instead of being the star in everyone's life, she is now just Chelsea. The only constant is her devoted boyfriend, Gabe. With everyone else, she's become withdrawn and fixates on that last moment when she fell and destroyed every hope of ever playing basketball again and crushed both her and her father's dreams. In hopes of moving Chelsea beyond her depression, her father treats the family to a three-week summer "boot camp" in Minnesota where he hires a personal trainer, Clint, who he hopes will be able to restore some of the girl Chelsea once was before the accident. Though hating to leave Gabe behind, Chelsea quickly finds Clint - who is a 19-year-old ex-hockey player haunted by his own personal demons - intriguing. As hard as they both try, the chemistry between Clint and Chelsea is far too strong, and Chelsea's father ends up with far more than he's bargained for in a trainer. Chelsea realizes that with Clint she can "almost remember what if felt like to be whole again. Unbroken." As Chelsea struggles with her growing feelings for Clint and her sense of devotion to Gabe, she finds that maybe, just maybe if she takes a chance, she can move on in her life. But, is that chance worth the risk of causing more heartbreak for everyone involved?
Simply stated, Playing Hurt is fabulous. It is an absolutely perfect young-adult romance - focusing on issues today's teens must face, and handling them with an elegance that touches even the coldest of hearts. Holly Schindler addresses complex issues such as teen sensuality, infidelity, and simply growing into adulthood beautifully. So often, edgier novels are written more with a shock value, hoping to lure in teens by risqué content. But Playing Hurt doesn't need shock value - it's simply good, authentic literature. The primary plot of Chelsea's growth and acceptance of her life without basketball is but one part of the novel. The subplots are certainly equally captivating. Schindler does a nice job weaving in family dynamics with struggle between sticking with comfort and taking a chance on life, and it is never presented in an unrealistic, "every-story-needs-a-happy-ending" way. Also, Schindler's writing style is captivating. Lacing the story with figurative language such as "Basketball is an hourglass with a whole pyramid of sand on the bottom," adds to the lure of the novel. Clearly, Holly Schindler is a name to watch. Playing Hurt is her second novel, and her debut novel, A Blue So Dark has recently won a gold medal at the IPPY's and is also a finalist in ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year. Hopefully readers will be hearing a lot more about Holly Schindler!
Review written by Margo Nauert (6th grade teacher).
We would like to thank Holly Schindler for providing a copy of Playing Hurt for this review.
Have you read Playing Hurt? How would you rate it?