Playing by the Book

Playing by the Book

by S. Chris Shirley


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Friday, September 20


When seventeen-year old high school newspaper editor Jake Powell, fresh from Alabama, lands in New York City to attend Columbia University's prestigious summer journalism program, it's a dream come true. But his father, a fundamentalist Christian preacher, smells trouble. And his father is rarely wrong.

In Playing by the Book, Jake navigates new and unfamiliar ways "up North," starting with his feelings for a handsome Jewish classmate named Sam. What Jake could keep hidden back home is now pushed to the surface in the Big Apple.

Standing by his side are a gorgeous brunette with a Park Avenue attitude and the designer bags to match, a high school friend who has watched Jake grow up and isn't sure she's ready to let him go, and an outrageously flamboyant aunt who's determined to help Jake find the courage to accept love and avoid the pain that she has experienced.

Provocative and moving, Playing by The Book is a feel-good novel about the joy and heartbreak we encounter in the search for our own truth.

About the Author
S. Chris Shirley is an award-winning writer/director and President of the Board of Lambda Literary Foundation. He graduated from Auburn University where he served as photo editor of The Auburn Plainsman and later received a graduate degree from Columbia University. He was born and raised in Alabama and now resides in Manhattan. Playing by the Book is his first novel.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626010710
Publisher: Riverdale Avenue Books
Publication date: 05/19/2014
Pages: 314
Sales rank: 444,573
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Playing by the Book 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Playing By The Book is a coming-of-age story that provides an insightful look into the struggles experienced by Jake, a teenager from Alabama who wants to attend a summer workshop at Columbia University's Journalism School despite the concerns of his father, the local Preacher. During this experience Jake gains exposure to a diverse group of teens with different beliefs and value systems than what he has been exposed to as a “preachers kid”. The story is focused around Jake's personal transformation while at Columbia, as he is repeatedly reminded that there many different answers to life's big questions. His journey leads him to an acceptance not only of himself but also of others as he begins to look at the world in a very different way. These discoveries and how they coexist with his strong faith creates a story that everyone, regardless of age or background can relate to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was so in love with this book.  Great characters, and a really sensitive touch with a difficult subject. AA lot of YA fiction about LGBT subjects treat coming out as if it is no big deal, and it still is in a lot of places so a book like this one is really important.  I loved the characters, its really well-written, and I would love to see more form S.Chris Shirley!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Playing by the book is a book that addresses the sexual orientation struggle right on! One cannot help but like Jake because he is truly good even if he cannot accept his goodness. Struggling with his sexual orientation, Jake finds his truth. Jake played the expected role of a conservative preacher's son. But that is the problem: playing a role that is not the true Jake. We all can relate to playing a role at some time in our lives simply because it is easier. Shirley took me on a ride to experience Jake's acceptance of his sexual orientation. I held my breath on this ride and cheered for Jake. What a ride! Kay Cates is the reviewer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In S. Chris Shirley's impressive first novel, southern Christian fundamentalism collides with New York City liberalism as a deeply conflicted young gay man haltingly moves toward self-acceptance. The novel is rendered with great insight and not a small amount of wit. The protagonist is eminently likable, yet very real.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Shirley's book is an ideal read for young adults. Particularly for those questioning their sexuality and especially for thos living in a strict fundamentalist Christian home. As Shirley pointrout, ins a novel both entertaining and touching, everyone is likely struggling with what they perceive to be a demon. But when that demon is faced the result is usually resolution and peace.
LaceyE More than 1 year ago
This book offers so many great things for young-adult and adult readership. Take a lesson in empathy and compassion while reading the smart and witty story of Jake. What a beautiful coming-of-age story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A rare and welcome insight into "coming of age" in NY from a hero unprepared for the journey.  A wonderful story of truth and family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This first novel by S. Chris Shirley tells the story of Jake, a well-meaning kid from Alabama about to land in the Big Apple. Jake's got an appetite for experience that's as big as his heart. And while he's been raised according to what the bible has to say, he's about to find out that not everything he encounters -- or desires -- fits into the confines of his upbringing. This book is smart, funny, and sweet. You'll be glad you spent some time with Jake, a narrator who can make you laugh without resorting to sarcasm or snark. Highly recommended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel about a young man from Alabama in Manhattan is wise, witty and entertaining. The author makes loosening a Bible Belt by coming out -- fresh. I really enjoyed this book!
J_S_Heintz More than 1 year ago
Playing by the Book is a great read – the story of what happens when Jake, the editor of his high school paper,  leaves his hometown and the shelter of his religious family for a summer journalism program at Columbia  University in New York. This novel has something to say to all of us who have struggled to come to grips with  who we are, who have confronted the expectations of what others want us to be, and who have wrestled with  what it means to be a decent human being. It’s the kind of book where I found myself thinking, “Okay, just one  more chapter” – and the next thing I knew I had finished it. I only regret that a book like this wasn’t around when  I was in high school.
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
Playing by the Book by S. Chris Shirley This is a young adult/coming of age tale where Jacob (Jake) Henry Powell, the 17 y/o son of a preacher in Tarsus AL (pop. 7022), wins a spot in Columbia University's Summer in Journalism Program. The six-week course is Jake's dream. To convince his very conservative and strict father "The Preacher," he has to agree to a bet: either he wins an award at the end of the six weeks, or he has to commit to becoming a preacher like his father -- something Jake hates. Things are complicating by the fact that Jake has been "praying the gay away" since he was thirteen. As he arrives at Columbia's dorm, he meets Sam Horowitz -- Sam -- who is openly gay. Feelings are awakened immediately and Jake fights them by a combination of guilt, repression, and Christian fervor. Ultimately, the gay wins, so Jake has to confront his conservative parents with the support of Phoebe Clarke -- Jake's aunt -- and the help of his new found friends and boyfriend. The story is narrated from the first person point of view, which is good for a memoir/coming of age tale. Unfortunately, the message of the story was so drowned in Jake's sheltered existence that it made me as a reader start to loathe him as a character. He was like a parody of a small-town kid, all fresh from the country and ready to tackle the big city! There are repetitions of the same thing over and over again: bible verses, guilt, prayer -- to the point that many times I found myself saying "enough already." As someone who grew up in a very conservative Catholic family, I get it. The kid is confused. He was raised by a strict, religious family. I'm sure that in some parts of the country, there are still gays being bullied into the closet by very strict and religious parents. Some become homeless if they make the mistake of coming out before they live their small-town/narrowminded communities. Some, like Jake, think of suicide -- some succeed. It just went on forever: I couldn't get into an entire story of a person battling what's right and wrong in their head. The book called for an editor that would practice moderation. A few well-placed chapters would have done the trick. Whining about your struggle to deny, then justify, yourself gets old fast. Then there was the writer's quest to reconcile homosexuality and religion. Really? Who cares? I almost threw up when Jake makes Sam Promise he will practice his Jewish faith so that they both can meet again in Heaven. Jakes desire to appease Christianity and homosexuality was too much for me. AIDS as God's punishment for being gay? Acquiring AIDS through a superficial cut in your skin? Really? We need young adult books that treat homosexuality as a serious subject and not as a caricature of small-town kids (ignorant and naive) vs city kids (empowered and knowledgeable). We need books that will teach kids how AIDS is transmitted and how to support the struggle that all of us went through. Coming out is a journey for each one of us -- and each one of us deals with it as best as we can. I felt this book trivialize the journey.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a pleasure to read a coming-out story that's smart, sweet, funny and, most importantly, real! It's great to know that young people today have access to books like this that can serve as inspiration to face their fears, knowing that they're not alone. I'm eagerly looking forward to Mr. Shirley's next novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Among many things I loved the honesty of this book. A coming-of-age story told from the heart! Well-written, open-minded, and compelling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago