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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

This Gorgeous Game by Donna Frietas

Hello there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers!  Today's post is a doozy if I do say so myself (and of course I do).  It's a book that begs the reader to put aside their own beliefs temporarily in order to read through the fictional experiences of another and see what can happen when one's focus becomes to singular.  Like I's a doozy.  Seat belt fastened?  Here we go.  Today's book of choice is....


Olivia Peters is your average school girl.  She has her friends (Ashley and Jada), her family (Mom and sister, Greenie), her crush-hopefully-known-as-boyfriend-soon Jamie, and fairly decent grades in school.  Yes, life seems to be pretty hunky dory at this point.  The only thing that could possibly make it better would be a win in the writing competition she entered at school.  Oh, wait...she DID win.  Wahoo!  Happy dance time for one and all...right?  Perhaps not...

Olivia attends the local Catholic high school...preparing for her move to Holy Mary University upon graduation.  The religious aspect of her daily interactions with teachers and students, nuns and priests, are all common place to her, just part of the everyday ordinary routine since her family is, in her words, "very Catholic".  It's not unusual for one of the priests to be at their home for dinner on any given night;, in fact it'd be more out of sorts if one wasn't.  As she makes her way to Sister June's office to officially hear the announcement, her mind is blown once again when she realizes her literary idol is delivering the news personally. 

What an honor!  Mark D. Brendan, author extraordinaire AND local priest, takes a few moments from his hectic schedule to be there in person as her win is revealed.  The first place winner was to receive a critique on their story for publication and a coveted slot in his summer program at the local college.  What a personal touch!  A famous author is willing to take her on as a protege, spending days and nights providing guidance, pointers, ice cream...?? oddity that he seems to be showing her a bit more attention than the prize seems to warrant.  At this point, her little voice of intuition is screaming to gain her attention that something is not quite right, but she brushes it off time and time again...I mean, come on, he's a priest!  It'd be too weird if he....he couldn't possibly want.... Things begin to spin out of control as letters, phone calls, texts, and "accidental" run-ins happen more and more frequently.  Then there's that manuscript of his that she's been so carefully avoiding though he's desperate for her feedback on.  Will Olivia be able to put a voice to the questions she can't even contemplate in her mind before this "game" goes too far? 

When optioning to review this title, I must have missed the religious affiliation somehow....don't ask me how, I just did.  It's a book written about a young girl's experience with an overtly friendly...priest. A touchy subject to say the least and depending on your religious affiliation, quite a controversial read.  I myself wondered if I'd be able to finish reading the book at times, wondering about the direction the story would take.  Too far over the edge and I might have had to, I probably would have.  Call me crazy...I grew up with a faith and structured setting similar to the main character.  I couldn't imagine this happening in one of the schools I attended even knowing the stories you hear on television from time to time.  These were people that you could trust beyond measure, confess your deepest secrets to (in the proper setting), and yet walk away without being judged on what you've done, but simply on what you will do. 

Perhaps this is why I found the story both drawing me in and pushing me away at the same time; it's plausible in today's world but not acceptable in my mind based on past experience.  It's definitely hard to correlate her priestly characters drinking hard liquor, visiting local bars (with a high school girl) and becoming so obsessed with this young the images I have of my own past as well as those of family members.  Also, I found it rather interesting how the book's title is worked into the story, although the how and why I will leave for you to discover.  Periodically throughout the book there are references to one Thomas Merton and A Midsummer Diary of M.  It begged a smidge of research after his story was relayed in the book with such a ill-tasting twist.  Come to find out the story referenced is true in a sense, but not to the extent you are lead to believe (definitely a sigh of relief there).

Overall, I'd say the story was a page turner for the simple fact that you had to see how far this was taken and if his come-uppance would actually come up.... You'll feel for Olivia (the main character) as she tries to navigate a world she's always known and felt safe and secure in, by a new set of rules being imposed upon her.  You'll shout at the page (literally or figuratively is up to you) as she again denies the alarms going off in her mind.  Definitely an interesting read, but one I'd recommend approaching with an open mind (if possible) so as to avoid any snubs to your own beliefs.

Special thanks to Ksenia at Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for the ARC to review. (THANKS)  For more information on this title and their myriad of other great reads, check out their main site, the division site for Farrar, Straus and Giroux, or follow along on Twitter.

Until next time....happy reading!

1 comment:

Juju at Tales of said...

I love that it affected you. Nice review ;)

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