Google+ Reading Teen: Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler Review

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler Review

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Flux (March 8, 2011)
  • Source: Teen Book Scene ARC Tour
  • Author's website:
  • Buy the book:  Amazon

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?

(The ARC I received for review says 13 and up, but I'm thinking maybe this will change.  This book has quite a bit of sexual content, and is about a girl who has graduated from high school.)
Ok, so I loved this book. It wasn't at ALL what I expected! I thought it was going to be overly sports-related, which is ok, and I thought I was going to be mad at the cover, for making people think it was a romance....but I was SO wrong. The cover is perfect, and the, it was steamy!  Actually, the cover may be too tame!  And even though basketball was the backdrop of Chelsea's story, it did not dominate the storyline.  In fact, I thought that Clint's story was more compelling.

I could really relate a lot to Chelsea and the way she felt about basketball.  Even though I didn't play that sport (I played volleyball) and I wasn't forced out by injury, I could completely understand the way she felt about it.  For those that don't play a sport, there's no way to describe the way you can love something like basketball or volleyball so much.  Almost like it's an actual part of you.  And when that is taken away so suddenly, and so "unfairly", it's nearly impossible to come to grips with it, and let that hurt go.  This is what Chelsea is dealing with.  It isn't really the physical pain of her hip that she has to heal from, it's more the emotional pain of losing her chance to do the thing she thought would be part of who she was forever.  

This is also what Clint is dealing with, although in a very different way and because of a completely different source of trauma.  Clint is dealing with the death of his long-time and very serious girlfriend after an automobile accident.  He doesn't want to get close to anyone, and avoids anything and everything that reminds him of his deceased love, fearing that he may feel that overwhelming pain again.   

So, when the two meet while Chelsea is on summer vacation, although there is an immediate physical attraction, they are both very resistent to an emotional connection (throw in the fact that Chelsea has a very serious boyfriend waiting for her at home).  But denying their growing need and desire for each other is easier said than done.  Seeing the hurt played out in each other's lives, helps them to see the need for healing in their own, and soon they find themselves letting go, and learning to live and love again.  

I flew through this book.  I couldn't stop turning the pages, reading the very sweet love affair that developed between Chelsea and Clint.  It kept reminding me of "Dirty Dancing" where the girl goes to a resort and ends up having an affair with the troubled staff, but instead of a dance instructor, Clint was a boot-camp trainer.  :) 

I loved the setting of Minnesota.  I really enjoyed reading about them swimming in the Lake, kayaking in the Rainy River, hiking through the woods, and exploring the beauty of the forest.....especially the waterfall!  I could picture it all in my head, and it made me want to go there!

I did feel really sorry for Chelsea's boyfriend.  He is so completely in love with her, and I feel like if you're going to be in a relationship, you should be faithful to that relationship.  If you start to have feelings for someone else, you should break it off.  But I can't blame Chelsea for falling for Clint.  He's rough and rugged and gorgeous and athletic, he pushes her to move on and to not be afraid.  Who wouldn't fall for him?  And I liked the family aspect of the book.  I appreciated that Holly actually wrote multi-dimensional characters as Chelsea's mother, father, and especially her brother.

The only thing that I didn't like, was a moral issue, and not a problem with the writing style. It really bothered me how pre-occupied Chelsea was with losing her virginity. She is constantly mentioning that she's the only virgin left, since she's graduated high school. It is such a MAJOR theme that runs throughout the whole book, and I felt that it belittled the relationship that she had with Clint. It was like she just wanted to get it over with, and couldn't wait for it to happen. I just hope girls don't read this (and other books that say things like this) and think that they are the only ones waiting for the right person. Girls have enough pressure already. I felt like their relationship was so much more meaningful than it sometimes came across because of her thoughts about needing to hurry up and have sex.

If you're craving a beautiful story about loving, losing love, and loving again, you will adore this book!

  • Sexual Content:  Heavy
  • Profanity:  Moderate/Heavy
  • Violence:  Minor
  • Other Notables:  Some minor drinking by underage teens.


  1. sounds great,
    I'm adding this one to my TBR pile,

    I'm craving some romance right now, I feel like most books lately are stuck with love triangles (which is not bad, we all love those, but the girl never chooses the boy I like so boo *sadness*)

  2. Oooooh I want to read!
    It's already reminding me of Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles which I LOVED.

  3. Sounds like a great book and the cover is gorgeous!

  4. I totally agree with your review! I really liked the book but struggled with the sex scenes when I thought about the target group but I liked the story, itself.

  5. Now that you've mentioned Dirty Dancing I think I'll have to watch it again because I love it!

  6. Thanks for another great review. I rarely go for teen romance, but your description made this one seem worthy of reading. I'll keep an eye out for it!

  7. OMG! I've always thought the cover was 2 little girls sitting side by side wearing kimono-something! That's why I never connected it with the description. I thought, "why two little girls in kimono?"

    Anyway, this has been on my wishlist! Thanks for the review and for the awesome insight.

    Chel @ The procrastinator's Corner


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