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 her 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?
When I read Playing Hurt I discovered an amazing writer. This may only be Holly Schindler’s second book, but already she has made a name for herself. In this book, she wrote a powerful and touching story, one that many readers will easily be able to relate to.
Chelsea is slowly recovering from a hip injury that put an end to her dream of having a professional basketball career. In the hope of getting her mood up, Chelsea’s dad gives her a three week “boot camp” program at a resort in Minnesota. There, Chelsea meets Clint, her trainer, who has plenty of issues of his own. Both Clint and Chelsea are immediately drawn to each other but both have something hold them back, in the form of a dead ex-girlfriend and a boyfriend waiting at home. Together they discover new feelings, some they thought they would never feel again. What could cause Chelsea and Clint even more pain might just be what they need in order to heal.
Under normal circumstances I would be against a story about a girl who goes away for the summer and cheats on the boyfriend she left back home. However, I fell completely in love with Holly Schindler’s version of this story. The way the story is written makes it so that it’s not about cheating but more about falling in love and coming to terms with the past. The alternating points of view only worked to make the story more powerful and touching, showing how each of the characters struggled and came to terms with their feelings. If the story as a whole wasn’t amazing enough, I absolutely loved the ending. For once it wasn’t a case of “and they all lived happily ever after” but everyone was still happy. There was closure but not enough for all doors to have been completely closed. It was, in my opinion, the perfect ending.
I absolutely loved Chelsea in spite of the whole cheating thing. If you ask me, Gabe wasn’t all that great anyway. I loved seeing her grow and come out of her shell. She started out hiding, not really opening herself up to anyone, to being someone who did things she never thought she would do and standing up for herself. In the end Chelsea was able to come to terms with what had happened to her. Clint had a similar evolution. At the beginning of the book he was afraid to open himself up to anyone, especially romantically, but then Chelsea came along. My favorite part though, was seeing the relationship between them develop and blossom. In my opinion Chelsea and Clint were exactly what the other needed.
Playing Hurt was an incredible book. I am so happy to have discovered Holly Schindler and I will definitely go back and read her first novel, A Blue So Dark, and whatever comes next from her.