Thursday, August 14, 2014

Playing By the Book by S. Chris Shirley

Playing by the Book
* * 

When seventeen-year old high school newspaper editor Jake Powell, fresh from Alabama, lands in New York City to attend Columbia University's prestigious summer journalism program, it's a dream come true. But his father, a fundamentalist Christian preacher, smells trouble. And his father is rarely wrong.

Jake navigates new and unfamiliar ways "up North." Starting with his feelings for a handsome Jewish classmate named Sam. What Jake could keep hidden back home is now pushed to the surface in the Big Apple.

Standing by his side are a gorgeous brunette with a Park Avenue attitude and the designer bags to match, a high school friend who has watched Jake grow up and isn't sure she's ready to let him go, and an outrageously flamboyant aunt whose determined to help Jake finds the courage to accept love and avoid the pain that she has experienced. 

Provocative and moving, Playing by The Book is a feel-good novel about the pain and joy we encounter in the search for our own truth.


So, have you seen Transformers 3?  Or what I like to call the “the movie that never ends?”   At one point I started calling this “the book that never ends.”  It’s not a long book.  But add the time I had to take to roll my eyes and sigh heavily and the book became three times as long.

I had two major issues with this book. The first issue I had was the overwhelming feeling that the author was completely disconnected from the young adult voice.  I am having a hard time describing what I mean so I am going to recommend you read this review of the same book.  Reviewer Stacia pinpoints perfectly the disconnect that bothered me so much. 

The other issue I had was with what seemed to be the author’s agenda.  I got the very distinct impression that Jake’s story was only there to provide the author with a delivery system that would allow him to attempt to reconcile sexuality and the Christian faith.  I’m not saying this discussion shouldn’t be had.  Quite the contrary.  It should absolutely happen.  But in this instance it was done too shallowly to have a hard impact.  Here is the thing.  I grew up in a fundamental Christian religion (add that to the list of things you now know about me) which means that the whole time I was reading it I was thinking, “well that reasoning wouldn’t work at all (or at least not that quickly),” or “in a real life situation that person would respond back with this.” 

The one thing I did like was Jake’s complete cluelessness.   I’ve been that guy (or girl) and could really identify with it. Jake is the kid that has been separated from all the amazing diversity in the world that he puts his foot in his mouth each time he sees or experiences something that doesn’t fit into the box he’s grown up in.

This book is really a perfect example of how reviews are so partial.  I am confident that a lot of people are going to read this story and absolutely love it because their life experiences allow them to read it differently.  Unfortunately, my life experiences made this story just “meh.”


1 comment:

  1. First, I want to thank you for writing an honest review! I hadn't heard much about this book, but the cover caught my eye and I was curious. I guess now I'll probably not bother, I hate when it feels like the author has an agenda. (Although I appreciate that you linked the good reads review too!)