Playing Hurt, by Holly Schindler

Publisher: Flux (March 8, 2011)

Format: Kindle edition

Me: “Ooh, pretty cover! It looks so interesting! I can’t wait to read this fantastic book with such a beautiful, inspiring cover. Oh great, I’m starting. Huh, this book is about a female basketball player…okay, that’s fine, it doesn’t really have anything to do with this gorgeous cover but still…oh wait, the rest of the book takes place in the woods of Minnesota? What’s with the light-filtered white and blue shot? The girl is wearing white pants

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for god’s sake! Who wears white to go trekking through the woods? What’s wrong with her?! I thought this was going to be beachy…” Let’s just say I expected something different than what we get in Playing Hurt.

Plot:

Chelsea Keyes leads a charmed life. She has an adoring blond boyfriend named Gabe, a basketball career that’s about to explode, and an adoring town rooting for her to go all the way to the WNBA. And then the unthinkable happens: she hurts her hip and gone are her dreams of a career in basketball. A year goes by and Gabe is still by her side but her adoring public has vanished. Chelsea is just another high school student recently graduated from high school. She wants to go all the way with Gabe but he demands that the timing be perfect like her (it sounds sweet but just comes off as cheesy!). He tells her they can finally be together when she returns from a planned 3 week vacation with her family to the Minnesota wilderness. She leaves frustrated but soon finds an outlet for releasing those frustrations in the form of a personal trainer named Clint. Her father has picked him out as the one to get her back in the shape she’s lost in the past year. As Chelsea and Clint spend day after day together, a fragile romance blooms. In addition to Clint being smokin’ hot, Chelsea views him as a kindred spirit. Clint is equally broken in that he’s given up his own hockey career due to the death of his high school sweetheart a few years’ prior. When Chelsea leaves Minnesota and returns home, Gabe attempts to rekindle the romance they lost over the summer. She breaks it off with him and ends up breaking his heart in the process. The story concludes with her driving away to college, knowing that her heart will one day lead her back to Clint but for now she’s content to be alone.

Review:

I’m a sucker for stories that tell the guy’s point of view. There’s something about hearing a boy’s thoughts that make me feel all fluttery. Playing Hurt alternates between Chelsea, the broken basketball star, and Clint, the broken hockey star. We get to see their two perspectives on the same situations which is extremely unique but at the same time, Holly Schindler writes the two points of view so similarly that you can’t really tell those two perspectives apart. She doesn’t have what it takes to really demonstrate that her alternating voices are different people. Unless I actively looked at the name assigned to each chapter, I would have no clue who was talking. That’s the sign of a meh writer in my opinion. Her story is interesting–broken former star meets an equally broken former star and the two teach one another how to live again–but her style was kind of lacking. I never really felt like I connected with the characters. Maybe that was due to the fact that she couldn’t quite pull off two separate voices or maybe it was because she didn’t give us much depth in her scenarios. Regardless, I found the premise interesting but in the end, this is

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the sort of book I will read and forget instantly. Pretty sad as the premise is reminiscent of Sarah Dessen and her stuff is impossible to forget. Solid A for effort but an F for everything else. I didn’t even care that there were two hunky boys in this book. That oughtta tell you something.

Based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the heroine: 5. The idea of Chelsea was what kept me reading about her. She seemed like she was going to evolve and become something awesome as she tried to piece her broken life back together but even when she did, she was so forgettable that I didn’t really care. She’s the sort of character who is so basic and over used that you know what’s going to happen and what she’s going to think within the first few pages of chapter 1.

How much did I like

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the love interest: 7. There’s 2! That alone warrants a 7. But what’s kind of boring is that they’re foils of one another–Gabe is the blond haired tender soul who wants Chelsea’s first time to be so magical that he plans out a night at a hotel suite and names a freaking star after her so he can look at it and think of her whenever he’s out at night; Clint is the dark haired former hockey player turned personal wilderness trainer who lost his sweetheart in a car crash and is tortured yet manly and drinks beer. I can just imagine Holly Schindler saying to herself, “Hhhmm…now, since my plot involves two guys, I need to make the reader clear on who’s who since my writing just won’t cut it. Gabe will be light and Clint will be the dark that tempts Chelsea. It’s so deviously perfect!”

How believable is the plot: 5. Pretty unbelievable if you ask me. I don’t know how many stupid vacations in the woods everybody else’s parents drag them on but in my household, we didn’t like nature and my parents certainly didn’t push sports on me. Plus I was short and hey wait a minute…did my high school even have a girls’ basketball team? I’m not buying it.

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 6. Okay I know I’ve been bagging on her, but Schindler is actually a decent writer. It’s just that her characters are caricatures of typical YA characters and there’s no real discerning characteristics that make them stand out. It wasn’t that she writes badly, it’s just that it’s all banal and forgettable. Otherwise, the editing is spot on and the alternating voices while continuing the action was an interesting tactic.

How much did I want to keep reading: 2. Sadly, I didn’t care enough to want to keep reading. At the end, as Chelsea rolled out of town to begin life anew at college, I couldn’t help thinking, “Wait, she didn’t choose either boy? She’s still trying to talk to Gabe after breaking his heart? She doesn’t call Clint when he writes her that he’ll see her next year? This book is so stupid!” If it had been paper I might have thrown it, but probably not because I didn’t care enough about the characters to make the effort.

Final Score: 5. A big run of the mill 5. Kind of like the tenor of this book, the story wasn’t good or bad, it was just unmemorable. I would suggest you read it if you want some light entertainment but not if you’re hoping to take anything away from it.

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3 thoughts on “Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler

  1. I literally just finished this and then ran to my computer to read what you wrote. I agree with most of what you said. My thoughts:

    1. Gabe = BORING. And creepy controlling in my opinion. Oh and when he throws the bottle against the wall after Chelsea confesses? WARNING! Dear young girls: if you get into an argument with your boyfriend and he throws a bottle against the wall please immediately call someone to come get you!

    2. Clint = a complete 10 in my book. Mostly cause he sounds hot and I’m shallow. And he can skate! We can have adorable skating babies.

    3. The relationship between Clint and Chelsea was just beyond stereotypical. You’re right, from the second page I knew everything that was going to happen. Every. single. thing.

    4. What bugged me most was the writing style. I felt like the author suffers from what I’m terming “Cormac McCarthy” syndrome. As I’m reading certain passages (“we tangle around each other like lady slippers twisting to move beyond the shade. Searching out the heat of our passion they way a flower seeks the heat of the sun”) I can just hear her excited voice in my head as she types thinking “yes! This passage is so deep! Look what a deep and thoughtful writer I am!”. It seriously distracted me throughout much of the book.

    In the end this book was just, as you told me it would be, blah. I neither loved nor hated it – it’s not even vanilla, it’s tan. No one has strong sentiments toward the color tan because it’s created specifically NOT to be memorable (look at what a deep and thoughtful writer I am!). I’m sure that by tomorrow if you ask me about this book I’ll have forgotten I ever read it. Which makes me hope for the author’s sake there’s no sequel.

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