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Praise for The ...
Praise for The Obvious Game:
"I couldn't put down The Obvious Game. Arens perfectly captures the hunger, pain and uncertainty of adolescence." -- Ann Napolitano, author of A GOOD HARD LOOK and WITHIN ARM'S REACH
"THE OBVIOUS GAME is a fearless, honest, and intense look into the psychology of anorexia. The characters-especially Diana--are so natural and emotionally authentic that you'll find yourself yelling at the page even as you're compelled to turn it." -- Coert Voorhees, author of LUCKY FOOLS and THE BROTHERS TORRES
"Let's be clear about one thing: there's nothing obvious about The Obvious Game. Arens has written a moving, sometimes heart-breaking story about one girl's attempt to control the uncontrollable. You can't help but relate to Diana and her struggles as you delve into this gem of a novel." -- Risa Green, author of THE SECRET SOCIETY OF THE PINK CRYSTAL BALL
Posted June 12, 2013
I love the premise of The Obvious Game. The game itself---pointing out obvious things as a game---was an interesting concept to me, and the reason why I accepted The Obvious Game for review. I had no idea that this book would affect me the way it did. I absolutely loved it! I was expecting your typical YA contemporary fiction, maybe with some high-school drama, so I was unprepared to read such an emotional, well-written story.
Diana grew up overweight and has the resultant body- and self-image issues after years of being teased about her size. She begins dieting without really making a conscious decision to do so. Diana's mother has cancer, and Diana can't handle the stress her mother's illness is placing on everyone in the family, not to mention the fear of losing her mother.
Diana meets Jesse, the new kid in town, and they have an instant connection. She starts running the bleachers while Jesse is in wrestling practice, and quickly begins losing a tremendous amount of weight. Diana's eating habits coincide well with Jesse's, as he struggles to keep his weight down for wrestling, to stay in the lower weight class. They both avoid eating, or when they do eat, eat very low-calorie foods. Diana's weight loss spirals out of control, and she feels like she is hiding it well, but she's not.
I loved that The Obvious Game was set in the 1990's as it really took me back to my own teenage years. It was easy to picture myself as Diana, even though I've never been in her situation. I loved the conflict resolution Arens employed. It was realistic and very believable. I admired that Arens used therapy to heal Diana instead of the change happening magically.
But my favorite part of The Obvious Game was the ending. It was just perfect! I won't say any more about it, so I don't spoil it for you, but the character growth and change was so satisfying. I loved The Obvious Game and would most definitely read Rita Arens again!
Posted March 17, 2013
Review originally featured on Bookluvrs Haven.
A hard to put down, coming of age story about a young girl that struggles with her self image and self esteem. Feeling as if most of her life is spinning out of control, Diana latches on to the one thing that she CAN control - eating.
This was an insightful story into the mind and emotions of a young girl coping with some difficult circumstances. Her warped perception of her body was saddening. Her anger and need to push everyone away during her most depressed moments was heartbreaking. I found myself hoping that she would see herself differently through Jesse's eyes, who cared so much for her. Or that she would change her perceptions because of her mother's illness. But some battles simply can not be fought on your own.
A really well written novel filled with very realistic situations and emotions. Heartbreaking in one moment, funny and joyful the next, it is a rollercoaster of a novel with a powerful message.
*I received a eBook copy of this book for free to review from the author/publisher; this in no way influenced my review, all opinions are 100% honest and my own.*
Posted February 11, 2013
I'm 41 yrs old, but within a few lines of The Obvious Game, I was right back in high school--for good and bad. Although it was a high school experience that was much more drama-filled than my own, I instantly recognized it, and it felt itchy and intense. I respect any author that can transport me so quickly and completely. I couldn't put it down--as much as because I was pulled deeply into the story as much as I wanted to get the hell back out. I don't want to be a sophomore again, but I am grateful to the author for the chance to remember why.
I loved all the descriptions of high school life in a rural setting. Parties in the woods. Looking out a kitchen window, "watching dawn break over the broken cornstalks in the field behind the house." All the food the family creates together. Cheap liquor drank right out of the bottle and driving on icy roads for fun. And while it's not a big theme in the book, it's a good example of how "country" in this book isn't something romantic and idealized or hic-ish and disregarded. It's just real. I loved that she talked about quilting and her Grandma making a cancer quilt for her mother as not something sweet and country but something that connects us with time, meaning, art, warmth, complication and love.
I also loved the voice of Diana--sometimes older than her years, sometimes very much a child--like all teenagers, but her voice was unique and compelling. Like other readers, I thought her relationships with her boyfriend and best guy friend were very well-told and felt familiar to me in good ways.
Lines I loved...
"Lin squeezed my head under the table, and when I looked over at her, her eyes glistened. I smiled at her that smile you make when you're not sure what else to do."
"Pa pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and handed it to me. It smelled like him, like the inside of a tractor--grease and cold and corn."
"He looked pointedly at my hands. I looked down to see the veins standing out, ropy against my pale hands."
"I didn't trust he was touching me to comfort me. He just wanted to see how many other bones he could feel, so he could tell me he was right and I was wrong."
"The first week, Ma stayed in the oncology ward's intensive care unit. Pa and I delivered her a new toothbrush and underwear in a Ziploc baggie, the kind she usually used for grapes."
"The birds came back. The days got longer." Things will start getting good right? Spring is coming. No. "And at Ma's follow-up appointment, the doctor said the cancer was back and growing fast." I liked that she didn't give her character a break (as life seldom does), but she still makes it through.
So much around perceptions and what is obvious and what is actually not. It's about anger at everyone, and trying to control the uncontrollable, about not being able to trust anyone including yourself, about what is right and wrong, self-hatred, and the absence of comfort, and yet also finding comfort, being brave, and feeling connected to one's family, finding the right friends and trusting love and ultimately your best self. A really wonderful first novel. I look forward to reading her next book (with hopes) very soon.