Book Review · OnlineBookClub

Playing Hurt by Gerald L. Nardella

Book Cover

Genre: Fiction
Number of Pages: 97
Publication Date: May 19, 2015

Rating: 3-star-review out of 5
OBC Rating: 2 out of 4 stars
Themes: Views/Pressures on Women
To Learn More About the Book, Click: Playing Hurt on OBC Bookshelves

*This was part of the Book of the Day Program*

downloadIn a small town back in 1960, a group of teenagers struggle with the pressures of their peers, society, and what their future holds.


This one gave me mixed feelings. It seems like the author has captured some of the pressures young women faced during this time. They try to be moral and save themselves for marriage, but their boyfriends have only one thing in mind and they cannot wait any longer. This is the time before social media and where teenagers end up entertaining themselves by driving around and park their cars in secluded areas with their significant others.

Unfortunately, this is where my interest faltered. The characters were very bland and flat. Aside from knowing the protagonists’ names, Brian, Deanie, Bill, and even Karen, I couldn’t distinguish who the others were. The secondary characters all seemed to have the same personalities and traits. It might not have been a huge deal, except for the fact that even the main characters didn’t have much personality.

There really isn’t much of a plot here. One could argue that the lead up to the fight scene perhaps was the climax, but at that point in the story, I wasn’t very interested.

The writing could use improvement as well. Aside from some grammatical errors, I felt the story was told as a teenager’s book review for class – very dull and more like a laundry list than an actual story. The sentence structure was simple and didn’t vary throughout the read. There were very little emotions throughout and when unhappy moments occurred in the read, I ended up not caring much because I didn’t feel like I knew the characters.

Lastly, I was a bit disappointed that almost every girl here was portrayed so weakly. I understand that in the past (and even now), teenage girls are self-conscious and they (along with boys) don’t make the brightest of decisions. However, I was hoping for at least one girl to be a stronger. Maybe Deanie or even Karen was supposed to come off strong, but they came off the opposite. It might have because of the bland writing or maybe because they were meant to be weak, but like I said, I wish there was at least one female that wasn’t as weak as they were presented here.

As a side note: I am confused about the genre of this book. From what I can tell it isn’t non-fiction, but Amazon states it is. It’s stated that the author used his own experiences to write this story about life in the 60s, but I wouldn’t call it historical fiction since there wasn’t any specific historical event mentioned. I also wouldn’t call this a coming-of-age story because there wasn’t a character that matured enough to learn something. This wouldn’t fit as a Young Adult either because of the heavy content (see paragraph below). If anyone has an idea of the genre, feel free to share!

As a warning, there is a rape scene, women being viewed poorly and weak, boys frequenting a strip club, and abuse in a relationship. These are pretty heavy topics, and I would advise that young, impressionable teenagers not be exposed to this until they are mature enough to handle the content.

Overall, I think it was a fair attempt in showing readers what teenage life was like in the 60s, but needs quite a bit of work to make it smoother and more entertaining.

Sure. To those who like to read about what teenagers did in the 60s and don’t mind some bland characters.

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