Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler
No. Pages: 303
I love the way this story begins! Chelsea is at the beginning of her senior year, playing a high school basketball game. She's amazing. She's on fire. She's a star in her small town community. She has her future mapped out because of her basketball scholarships. She's sweating and she's in pain. Her hip is shooting daggers down to her toes. She's hurt but she can't quit. The scene morphs into Chelsea watching the last game on a home movie her brother was shooting at the time. She's in her bedroom and she watches the drama unfold, recalls the pain she felt in her hips, the drive she felt to push her body, the excitement from the crowd, the last perfect lay-up. While airborne, the tricky twins on the sidelines continue with their argument and suddenly their drink is spilling, crawling across the court finally settling beneath her and the basket. Chelsea wishes she could have do-over before her body slams down and her legs splay in opposite directions as her feet slip on the liquid coating the floor. She wishes she could go back to a time before her hips land on the hardwood and crack, sending her into a tailspin of pain and ending her future. She ends the scene with the home movie paused in her lay-up.
Next scene is Clint, mostly dead inside. He is burying himself in work, school, and anything else that keeps him from 1) enjoying life and 2) thinking too much. Two years ago his childhood love, Rosie, died in an auto accident while driving to see one of his hockey games. He's working at a lake resort in Minnesota in rote mode.
Enter Chelsea and her family. Chelsea's dad has hired Clint to help Chelsea be a little more physical. Take her hiking, boating, whatever she needs to help her heal from the emotional trauma of giving up what she loved so much. Meanwhile, Chelsea and her dad have a strained relationship that also needs healing. Neither of them understand the other and make erroneous assumptions. Before the summer is out, this relationship's button is reset.
Both protagonists are terrified of getting hurt but in different ways. Both avoid activities that might cause pain; Chelsea with sports, Clint with his growing attraction to Chelsea. By the end of the summer, a lot of healing takes place.
My one problem with the book is that it is extremely sexual. Chelsea is completely hung up on the fact that she is a virgin. Virginity is a dirty word to Chelsea. I cringe when I consider the target audience reading this and thinking chastity is a bad thing and summer romance sex is acceptable. Frankly, her obsession with sex cheapens the wonderful relationship she and Clint have. They provide each other with the vehicle to heal their wounds that nobody can see. I also didn't understand the point of Gabe, Chelsea's boyfriend. He wasn't a villain and he did seem to truly care about Chelsea, albeit in a stifling and suffocating manner. Again, this cheapened the relationships she had with both boys. Her inability to be honest with either of them caused them undue pain.
I definitely enjoyed the book immensely. I definitely will not be giving the book to my teenage daughters. Sexual tension being for teenagers, nipple kissing and naked showers being for the mother.