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The Believing Game

The Believing Game

3.3 3
by Eireann Corrigan

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A private academy. A cult leader. A girl caught in the middle.

After Greer Cannon discovers that shoplifting can be a sport and sex can be a superpower, her parents pack her up and send her off to McCracken Hill-a cloistered academy for troubled teens. At McCracken, Greer chafes under the elaborate systems and self-help lingo of therapeutic education. Then Greer


A private academy. A cult leader. A girl caught in the middle.

After Greer Cannon discovers that shoplifting can be a sport and sex can be a superpower, her parents pack her up and send her off to McCracken Hill-a cloistered academy for troubled teens. At McCracken, Greer chafes under the elaborate systems and self-help lingo of therapeutic education. Then Greer meets Addison Bradley. A handsome, charismatic local, Addison seems almost as devoted to Greer as he is to the 12 steps. When he introduces Greer to his mentor Joshua, she finds herself captivated by the older man's calm wisdom. Finally, Greer feels understood.

But Greer starts to question: Where has Joshua come from? What does he want in return for his guidance? The more she digs, the more his lies are exposed. When Joshua's influence over Addison edges them all closer to danger, Greer decides to confront them both. Suddenly, she finds herself on the outside of Joshua's circle. And swiftly, she discovers it's not safe there.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Corrigan (Accomplice) tackles cult thinking, dysfunction, and addiction as a charismatic and manipulative man works his way into the lives of troubled teenagers. When caught shoplifting for the third time, high school junior Greer is sent by her parents to McCracken Hill, a boarding school for addicts and wealthy juvenile offenders. When Greer becomes involved with magnetically popular Addison, a recovering alcoholic, she also gets swept up in the machinations of his mentor, Joshua, an older counselor and savvy puppeteer who cons the vulnerable group of friends into following his often bizarre and exploitative credos. Though the eclectic cast is a strong point, some exposition about cults, addiction, eating disorders, and shoplifting crosses into didactic territory. Much of the psychology rests on the appeal of Joshua, yet his menacing and unsavory nature may not persuade all readers that he could attract these acolytes in the first place. Regardless, Corrigan again presents darkly disturbing insight into the teenage psyche, while exploring how entering relationships without a sense of self-worth can lead to destruction. Ages 13–18. (Dec.)
From the Publisher

Praise for Accomplice:

* “Corrigan delivers an addictive cautionary tale in this twisted unraveling of mean girl machinations… haunting and provocative.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Complex, heart-wrenchingly plausible…the story flows from secrets to lies, from a few harsh words to terrible accusations, and from supreme innocence to soul-sucking guilt….This tension-filled story will entice readers.” - Booklist

A dark page-turner with a satisfying resolution." - Kirkus

Praise for Ordinary Ghosts:

* “Outstanding . . . an exceptionally well-written story.” —Library Media Connection, starred review

“Corrigan has created a convincing male protagonist who should captivate either gender. This Ghost is a haunting read, sure to linger.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This memorable novel will capture older teens with its realistic, fully developed characters who come of age on the page.” —Booklist

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Greer gets sent to rehab at McCracken Hill after she is caught shoplifting, but the facility treats teens with all sorts of problems: addiction, abuse, eating disorders, etc. There Greer meets Addison, a handsome, sensitive guy. He introduces her to his Narcotics Anonymous sponsor, an odd, older man. Soon Joshua has inserted himself into the lives of several broken teenagers looking for someone to believe in. Greer can't be sure that he isn't playing some elaborate, creepy game, and she can't help but wonder what Addison's role in it is. Is he a true believer or just playing along? In this slow-building suspense novel narrated from Greer's perspective, the protagonist is the most fully developed character. The secondary personalities are weaker, and their motivations are more difficult to understand, especially under the extreme circumstances. The pace is likewise uneven. Until the climactic revelation of Joshua's twisted and violent mission, the book is unhurried and filled with his dogma-a jumbled mixture of religious scripture and strange psychology. Once his goal is revealed, the pace picks up and speeds toward a resolute and satisfying ending. Ultimately, this is a novel for mature teens who will appreciate the subtle nuances of manipulation.—Heather E. Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL
Kirkus Reviews
A streetwise Svengali with questionable motives seduces a group of teen addicts. When high school junior Greer gets caught shoplifting for the third time, her parents send her to a pricey rehab facility, where she meets Addison, a gorgeous, saintly recovering alcoholic. Their attraction is immediate, but there is one irritating grain of sand in the oyster of their love. His name is Joshua, and he is Addison's adult sponsor, guru and adoptive father. His background is vague, and his speech is an off-putting mix of pretentious psychobabble and biblical doctrine. Even though Greer distrusts Joshua on sight, she keeps her suspicions to herself since the romance is still new. But then at a bizarre weekend getaway, Joshua plays a series of inappropriate mind games with Addison, Greer and their roommates in order to bring them under his sway. Greer sees through his manipulations and attempts to separate her boyfriend from his spiritual guide with predictably tragic results. The plot strains credulity (it's hard to believe any reputable youth rehabilitation center would allow a non–staff member so much access to its patients), the pacing is slowed by long-winded therapy-speak and the abrupt ending is unsatisfying. Nevertheless, the characterizations ring true, especially of creepy Joshua and skeptical Greer, who have clearly met their match in each other. Compelling characters, disappointing denouement. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.40(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.30(d)
HL590L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Eireann Corrigan is the author of the poetry memoir You Remind Me of You, and the novels Splintering, Ordinary Ghosts, and Accomplice, which Publishers Weekly called "haunting and provocative" in a starred review. She lives in New Jersey.

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The Believing Game 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
OtotheD More than 1 year ago
When Greer is caught shoplifting (again) her parents pack her up and send her to McCracken Hill, a reform school for troubled teens. Shoplifting is only one of Greer's vices (she also has a tendency to sleep around and has an eating disorder).To Greer, the move to McCracken Hill is all very annoying. She's not easily won over by the staff or the self-help chit chat that is supposed to be therapeutic and help her deal with her disorders. But then she meets Addison, ex-skinhead and drug and alcohol abuser with a very troubled past. Recently reformed and on his way to a better life, Addison attributes his life changes to his mentor -- a man named Joshua. At first glance, Joshua seems to be the perfect mentor -- kind, funny and peaceful. But soon Greer begins to notice things -- strange things -- about Joshua. He's obviously not what he appears to be. When Greer tells Addison about her mistrust in his mentor and that gets back to Joshua, it leads to all kinds of trouble for Greer. Soon, cleaning up her act is the least of Greer's worries. Now she needs to try and stay alive. This book was very well-written and full of all kinds of twists and turns. There are mind-games a plenty here and sometimes you never know who you can trust. It's definitely a pulse-pounder and will keep you turning the pages well past your bedtime. Greer is a very unreliable narrator (and I love that). She's good at manipulation and getting her way, and seeing her struggle with this is interesting. I liked the dynamic between her and Addison, but it's the tension-filled scenes between her and Joshua that drive the book. The mystery surrounding Joshua is very compelling and creepy. The book moves at a quick pace, though there were a few times when I felt it stumbled a bit. While the ending felt like it fizzled a bit, this is still an interesting read and one I would recommend to fans of thrillers.
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
The Believing Game takes place in a rehab facility for youth.  Within these walls, we are introduced to a group of characters who stand apart from each other.  All have been given life with their own personalities and quirks.  And all of them are equally unforgettable in this story.  We are driven deep in to the mind of these youngsters, and are given a glimpse of the actions it took for them to get to where they are now. Enter the vulture…Joshua.  With the help of a fellow resident, Addison, he starts to build up his own little cult following, convincing these kids that the words he preaches speak the truth and that only he will be their salvation.  What a load of crap!  But to some of these kids, it’s Joshua’s words and gestures that give them something to hope for. After a weekend “retreat”, Joshua unveils his evil master plan to his little band of followers, and the beginnings of doubt start to leak through in this group.  It’ll take more than just a few words to convince Addison that the person that he holds so high up on a pedestal is not whom he thinks he is.  And inorder to save him and their other friends, Greer and Sophia have taken it upon themselves to find the truth about Joshua before someone gets really hurt, or takes the road from which there is no return. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I started reading The Believing Game by Eireann Corrigan.  And to be perfectly honest, 100 pages into it, I still didn’t know how I felt about it!  There was so much preaching and biblical references in it that it was making my head spin, and quite frankly, was annoying me terribly. But then…beyond all of that…I watched this story unfold.  This story that I didn’t think that I would even be able to finish.  For me, reading The Believing Game was like driving past a car accident…you just can’t help but look.  After all the moments that had me shaking my head, and wanting to pull out my hair with the actions that these characters were taking I became engrossed in the story.  I needed to find out how the heck this group of teens were going to dig themselves out of this hole that they’ve dug themselves into. It had me really questioning how Greer, Addison, Sophia, Jared, and Wes were going to untangle themselves from this wicked web that has been weaved by the extremely convincing but very disturbed Joshua.  And then it had me step back and look at all the real life cults that exist and have existed in the reality, and how these madmen preyed on the weak and vulnerable.  And it also showed me how impressionable young minds can be.  Not only young minds, but minds of those who are at a vulnerable time in their life, and are easily swayed. Strewn with sexual topics and other addictions, I wouldn’t recommend The Believing Game to younger readers.  As more of an older YA read, the topics discussed in the book are dark and very real.  With an ending that came out of nowhere, readers who are very much into psychological reads will come to enjoy The Believing Game by Eireann Corrigan, or for those who are curious to see how the beginnings of a cult could manifest.
Bookworm1858 More than 1 year ago
3.5/5 stars Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I was very drawn in by the knife on the cover (which is totally relevant to the plot although it's kind of a spoiler so I can't tell you exactly how) and knowing my love for contemporary books and stories about cults, I decided to try this one out. Greer has issues, to say the least. She struggles with food and she's a bit of a maneater but most troublingly to her parents is her penchant for shoplifting and the fact that she keeps getting caught. So she is sent off to McCracken Hill, a place for troubled teens. There she stays in isolation until drawn out by the mysterious Addison. He's smart and well-spoken and really close to his NA sponsor Joshua. But if Greer wants to be with Addison, then she'll have to play the believing game as she and other students are drawn into Joshua's web. I guess my biggest problem with Greer was how blinded by Addison she was and how desperate she was to keep him, so much so that she looks past a lot of red flags from Joshua. The way she subordinated herself to Addison was so creepy even though I knew about her previous problems. Furthermore she was so resistant to being helped through therapy and it just broke my heart-I always want to heal the characters I read about especially when they're in such bad situations. The way everything escalated was very intense..building at a slow pace until the big finale. I did not expect that (and the epilogue was honestly a bit of a disappointment to me) but I can see how it all fits together (sorry for vagueness). Overall: This was just an okay read for me-if you like reading about manipulative people, you'll get that here.