Thursday, November 18, 2010

This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas + Contest

Published June 2010.

Seventeen-year-old Olivia Peters is over the moon when her literary idol, the celebrated novelist and much-adored local priest Mark D. Brendan, agrees to act as her personal mentor. But when Father Mark's enthusiasm for Olivia's writing develops into something more, Olivia's emotions quickly shift from wonder to confusion to despair. Exactly what game is Father Mark playing, and how on earth can Olivia get out of it? (book back blurb)

It starts off innocent enough. Kind words. Little notes. But then it morphs. You don't see the shift at first because it's subtle. And really, it's not too much different than it was before. But then the hand comes down and you're left with a ruffled brow and a question mark over your head. The next thing you know, you're desperate to get out of the situation but you're in so deep, you don't know how.

As someone that's been in a very similar situation to Olivia, I could automatically sympathize with her. Even if I hadn't been, Olivia is a very commanding character. She's very likable, very honest. Really, it's hard not to like her. If you're a writer, you can share in her enthusiasm when she wins a coveted writing prize plus a chance to learn from a literary master. Who wouldn't love that? But it's when that power figure starts to abuse his power that things start to get ugly.

Olivia was such a pretty girl but the things Father Mark did to her (he never touched her inappropriately, in a sexual manner, mind) caused her to spiral. Her worry and her distress at the situation she was in started to show on her face. When a person you love starts to downward spiral like that, it's hard not to notice. I could actually see her at the end of the book; her face sallow, her hair lackluster, her eyes red and puffy from crying. I wanted to tell her I understood, that everything would turn out okay.

Freitas' writing just sucked me right in (obviously). She got it right. The reactions of the power player, the reactions of Olivia, they all hit home. They all rang true. I felt every twinge, every bit of happiness, every threat of fear. I could feel it in my bones. Trust me, it's a shitty feeling. But I almost wish Freitas would have done the power play with a younger man just so we could have another Albatross, another rejection of the stalker = love notion that's so dominant in YA right now. But it was amazing as is.

Father Mark had something of Olivia's that he knew he could manipulate to make his own. She's young, naive, afraid of losing it all. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to shout at the book, "drop him! Your writing life won't end! He's lying!" But she had to see it on her own. It still didn't suck any less to watch someone, even someone fictional, go through something like that. But at least she had the support structure around her to help her through it, once she brought them in, anyway.

Making Father Mark the community pillar didn't help Olivia either. It made her wanting to turn him in even harder. Who would believe her? He, a nationally recognized novelist and priest, over some pretty little blonde kid? The ending wasn't a perfect wrap-up either. A switch wasn't flicked that made everything all better. It was a slow process that we just start to see unfold as the final pages pass by. And I liked that. In a situation like this, it's not all cookie cutter. It's hard and it's painful and it's going to take a long time to heal. I'm glad Freitas didn't gloss over that fact.

You will not want to put this book down once you pick it up. You will want to soak in every single word, cheer with Olivia, cry with Olivia, scream at her, help her. So go ahead. Do it. You won't regret it. It's a hard topic but one that needs to be discussed and Freitas does an excellent job of that.

Contest Time!!!

Want my ARC? Just fill out the form below for your chance to win. Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per person per email address. Duplicate entries will be deleted. Contest ends December 9th at midnight, EST.


Adriana said...

Wow! This book sounds pretty intense. I'm looking forward to reading it. Thank you for the giveaway.

StephTheBookworm said...

I love books that you can't put down. :)

Books for Company said...

Sadly I'm not in the US, great giveaway.
Please check out my giveaway
Books For Company

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blog designed by TwispiredBlogdesign using MK Design's TeaTime kit.