Thursday, November 4, 2010

This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas

Seventeen-year-old Olivia peters has long dreamed of becoming a writer. So she's absolutely over the moon when her literary idol, the celebrated novelist and much-adored local priest Mark D. Brendan, selects her from hundreds of other applicants as the winner of the Emerging Writers High School Fiction Prize. Now she gets to spend her summer evenings in a college fiction seminar at the nearby university, where dreamy college boys abound and Father Mark acts as her personal mentor. 

But when Father Mark's enthusiasm for Olivia's writing develops into something more, Olivia quickly finds her emotions shifting from wonder to confusion to despair. And as her wide-eyed innocence deteriorates, Olivia can't help but ask - exactly what game is Father Mark playing, and how on earth can she get out of it? 

This remarkable second novel by the author of The Possibilities of Sainthood, about overcoming the isolation that stems from victimization, is powerful, luminous, and impossible to put down. 

I psyched myself up before reading this because it looked intense and emotional and maybe even a little disturbing.

It was kinda intense and it hit me hard emotionally but don't let the slightly disturbing subject matter deter you from reading this. Despite the premise, there is a lot of breathing space in these pages which not only focuses on the main premise, but also includes a beautiful love story and an unforgettable main character with a cast of faithful and fun friends.

There's a lot to admire about this book. It's lyrical and haunting. There's moments of stillness amidst bubbles of fear. It's a little creepy and I had chills by the end. It's a page turner with masterful execution of the plot.

The ending was powerful and liberating. It really superseded my expectations and I know I'll be passing it on to teens I know.

I had this sense of peace and empowerment when I finished reading the book. It's a story that will linger and I am so glad that this story has been told.

*Slightly spoilery, but not much :) *
I was grateful the story didn't get into physical abuse as I had thought it might. It was all psychological and stalker-y - which, while just as powerful and scary, was easier for me as a reader to stomach.

This Gorgeous Game @ goodreads
Praise for This Gorgeous Game
Read an Excerpt
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The cover story for This Gorgeous Game (isn't it a gorgeously evocative cover?)


  1. I know what you mean :) I've had some things happen to me as well and reading about similar stories in books always makes me feel less alone. Thank you for being brave enough to share something so personal like that. ♥

    Someone recommended this to me a while back but I wasn't able to read it since my TBR pile was monstrously high (now it's just a mini-hill, hah) but I'm definetely planning on reading it as soon as possible. Thanks for the non-review xD

  2. I've wanted to read this in a while. I'm a bit saddened by the fact that there aren't too many purple covers... :/ I've never had such an encounter before, but I think that these kinds of books really ARE important in letting people know that they aren't alone. I still have yet to find a word that replaces 'enjoy', when the subject matter of the book I'm trying to describe attains to heavy issues.

    I mentally deem this a "hardcover" book. There are some books that I MUST get in hardcover, the ones that I'm okay with investing the extra money. This sounds like a worthy contender.

  3. oh - i absolutely love purple covers too!

    thanks guys - x

  4. I've been hearing a lot of good things about this one. Love the purple cover, too :)

    Something like this has never happened to me, personally (I'm sorry it happened to you :(). But I've seen friends go through it -- I think it's so hard to say anything when something's very psychological (it's very easy to feel helpless, and like it's all in your head). Definitely sounds like a Very Important Book, letting people know that they aren't alone. Probably one I'll pick up and then lend to everyone I know.

  5. I'm sorry it happened to you, and thank you for sharing something so personal; it takes a lot of courage. This sounds like a very powerful book that I definitely do need to check out.

  6. somehow this reviews makes me think you'd like Deadline by chris crutcher. i LOVED it, it was one of those books that i just think about sometimes and will never forget.

  7. I think it is much harder to read about subjects that hit close to home, that is how I feel about reading or watching books or movies dealing with physical abuse.

    One of the negative thoughts I have read about this book is that reviewers have a hard time accepting the character's silence, but I think that is probably one of the must realistic aspects.

    I have not read this and I think it would be a very emotional read for me too, not because I have personal experience with this type of abuse, but because I know just what abuse can do to a person. I am glad you found the writing empowering. Thanks for the review!

  8. I am moving this up to the top of my to-read-list.

    I can relate to what you are saying as I had a similiar situation too and I know how it feels to be scared to say something or worried that maybe you are imagining things. Thanks for being brave enough to talk about your experience.

    Great review :)

  9. The book sounds like a must-read. I love a powerful plot like this one.
    Thank you for sharing your personal experience. I know someone who went through the same and it took her years to talk about it. This is an important book for everyone.

  10. Wow. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I'm so glad you were able to move past it and build your self a life.

    Thank you for this review and your insight.

    You were very brave to read something that could have made you uncomfortable.


  11. Wow Nomes, I'm so sorry that someone as sweet and lovely as yourself had to experience something so awful. Thank you for finding the strength within to share your experience/feelings with us about that very difficult situation. I'm glad you are okay all these years later. I can only imagine how reading a book with something similar to what you went through left you feeling. Thanks for the review. I know it probably wasn't the easiest one you've written.

    big hugs and besitos to you amiga xoxox

  12. Awesome review! I just read this one about a week ago, and I thought it was SO poignant and powerful - not an easy read, but sometimes I think that's necessary :)

  13. So so sorry to hear that happened to you. I usually like to hear about how readers can relate to books, but this one really made me sad cuz like Mel said you're such a sweet person. I'm sooooo glad that you finally confided in your parent though. That's one of my biggest fears, that my kids won't tell me when something happens to them. And like you said, even when the relationship is great, sometimes kids just clam up for no apparent reason. I will definitely be looking for this one, and thanks so much for sharing that. It takes a lot of guts to post something like that.


  14. I have heard great things about this one, but thought it wasn't for me, but you changed my mind. Sounds like a very powerful read.

    I'm so sorry that happened to you, but thank you for sharing your story. Another example of why books are so important!

  15. Hi fellow Australian! :)

    I haven't read an intense book in a while so I guess I'll be picking this one up :D

    btw, your blog is cool. And the titles you review are definite TBR.


Thanks for the commenty love :)