by Gerald L. Nardella
Review by Barry Boy
Playing Hurt was given to me in exchange for an honest review when it was OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day.
I am not American and so was confused when I started reading Playing Hurt, but it soon became apparent that the opening paragraph concerned an American football game.
Playing Hurt is a novel about the coming of age of a group of friends who are about to become school-leavers. It is written in the third person and an American vernacular, so that the language was not always what I expected to encounter. Having said that it was easy to read, just not what I would have written myself, but heh, vive la difference!
So, there is a football game underway, and it is the last of the season for the school, but also the last of their lives for some school-leavers such as Brian and Dick, who are two of the most prominent characters in the book. Brian fancies Deanie, a chearleader and Dick is going out with her friend Karen.
The game ends in a free-for-all and after that several parties. The first is a sort of end-of-term school party, then an all-girls night for one of Deanie’s friends and finally a kegger to which everyone is invited.
Those at the kegger (as in beer barrel) become embroiled in a mission of revenge against their arch-rivals in another school and the night turns into every parent’s nightmare scenario for their children.
After various acts of crime and under-age sex, the die for the future of the main characters is cast, and we watch them try to salvage their dignity and lives as best they can.
I enjoyed reading Playing Hurt. There are strange grammatical structures at times and several conjoined words, which suggest that the book was sabotaged by software even if it had been professionally edited, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of the story. The title was not immediately meaningful to me, but that probably has to do with the game. I thought that the cover was suitable.
I liked Playing Hurt, it has a lot to say – not all of it nice, but it is relevant to us all.
Well done, five out of five stars.
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