Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college – and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
As a graduation present, Chelsea’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain – or finally heal their heartbreak?
My rating: 5 stars.
Finally, a YA book that doesn’t shy away from mature themes! Where have you been, Ms. Schindler, and why hadn’t I read your books yet?
Yes, Playing Hurt deals with mature themes, specifically those of the sexual kind – in this instance, it’s both sex and the act of cheating. Which is not your typical YA storyline in which the main character searches for the “one” or his/her soulmate. Instead, it’s about discovering new love through rather unnacceptable means. And while I certainly don’t condone cheating, neither does the book. Playing Hurt offers a gritty, but realistic, portrayal of a different kind of self-discovery journey.
Chelsea actually grows as a character. So does Clint. They’re neither monotonous nor stationary. Aside from their cliché appearances – totally gorgeous, tall and tan – they really do mesh well together. Sure, it’s insta-love. But there’s more to it. There’s depth – something that usually gets overlooked. Their problems are entirely different from one another’s, yet they’re able to come together in more ways than one.
My only gripe is that the sports take a bit of a backseat within the plot. The story is about both Chelsea and Clint going through this boot camp program, but there’s hardly anything boot camp about it. And considering Chelsea’s self-discovery revolves around life after basketball, and Clint’s after hockey, I came to expect more of an inclusion of sports. Unfortunately, the expectation falls short. There are sports, of course, just not as much as you may think.
Other than that, Schindler’s writing is very fluid with beautiful descriptions that aren’t overdone. The pace keeps steady and the minor characters get just enough “air time.” Playing Hurt is a great rollercoaster of emotions, all neatly packaged and presented to its readers.
As the last stop on the Playing Hurt blog tour, I have the honor of giving a copy to one lucky winner! (** Paperback, slightly worn from previous travels.)
* ENDS at midnight, 6/13/11. * US ONLY. * Winner will be chosen by random.org and e-mailed. * Do not have to be a follower, but it’s much appreciated!
Finally got my copy from the Playing Hurt blog tour and I’m already more than halfway through it and loving it! Never read anything by her before, but I’m probably going to have to go out and get her other book, A Blue So Dark.
Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura’s dad left them. Convinced that “creative” equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.
Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
As a graduation present, Chelsea ’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?
Have any songs influenced your writing / stories / characters? Not directly. But as I was seeking publication, I taught piano and guitar lessons out of my home. At the time, I was writing only adult work. Interacting with teen and tween students one-on-one made me want to try my hand at YA…so music, in general, brought me to the genre that first accepted my work!
Are you a coffee or tea person? Coffee. Enormous, enormous coffee person.
At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a writer? When I figured out how to hold a pen. Honestly. I was writing at my child-sized rolltop desk when I was about six, seven years old.
It was truly a lifelong dream, being a writer. When I got my master’s in ’01, I had the ability to nix the full-time job routine, in favor of pursuing writing (this was only possible because of some incredible—INCREDIBLE—financial support from my family). Even though I had no financial concerns, publication didn’t come quickly OR easily—took seven and half years to snag the first deal.
Do you plan your stories, or do they develop spontaneously as you write? Most of the time, they’re completely planned and outlined—and I’m the dictator telling my characters who they’re supposed to be.
The one exception was PLAYING HURT…initially, the book was a love story that followed Chelsea as she went on summer vacation and fell for a guide at the resort (Clint) in a way she had never fallen for her boyfriend at home (Gabe). The book was all about learning the difference between loving someone and being IN love with someone.
After selling A BLUE SO DARK, my debut, to Flux, I re-read the manuscript for PLAYING HURT (then called SUMMER FLING), and realized my characters needed some backstory. I was struck by how athletic both seemed—hiking, fishing, bowling all existed in the first draft. So I began to give both Clint and Chelsea athletic pasts—the sports subplot exists in this book because I let my characters tell me who they were!
E-books or tangible books? I do have a Kindle, and enjoy reading on it…I was resistant to e-readers at first, thinking the experience of reading on a screen couldn’t possibly be the same as reading on the page…And then I realized, “Holly, you dope, you read your OWN books on the computer screen all the time!”
Why do you write contemporary fiction, as opposed to another genre? When I started seeking publication, I didn’t know where the first “yes” was going to come from, so I started writing in as many different genres as I possibly could. I have tons of manuscripts I’m now revising and reworking to get them into publishable form. My first middle grade is actually in development now, and should hit shelves in 2012! Look out for future books in different genres as well…
I’m so happy to be part of the Playing Hurt blog tour
and cannot wait to read the book!
A great big thanks to Ms. Schindler for taking the time to answer my questions!