by Gerald L. Nardella
Review by Barry Boy
I received a copy of Playing Hurt from the author and I promised to give an honest review.
I am not American and so didn’t quite understand when I started reading Playing Hurt. However, I soon realised that the opening paragraph concerned a game of American football.
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. Therefore, the language was not always what I was expecting 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 cheerleader 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; the second an all-girls night for one of Deanie’s friends, and finally a kegger which is a sort of free for all.
Those at the kegger (as in beer barrel) become embroiled in a mission of revenge against their arch-rivals in another school. Then 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. All that remains is to 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. It suggests to me that the book was sabotaged by software, even if it had been professionally edited. Nevertheless, 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. However, most it is relevant to us all.
Well done, five out of five stars.