Review – The Obvious Game by Rita Arens

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Title: The Obvious Game

Author: Rita Arens

Publisher: Inkspell Pulishing

Published: January 2013

Genre: Contemporary YA

Source: From author*

My Rating: 4/5

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When Diana accidentally starts teaching the new kid, Jesse, how to play the obvious game, she doesn’t realise that their relationship will strengthen until the secrets that she is so determined to keep hidden prevent her from realising she is not the only one hiding.

Rita Arens is not afraid to confront big topics and issues that are prevalent in today’s society.  At the beginning of The Obvious Game we learn that Diana’s mother is recovering from breast cancer. It is easy to not notice all the other issues in Diana’s life because of this, but the beauty of this novel is that it encaptures how a situation is never fully created from one issue.

While this book has a lot of hard-hitting topics, including eating disorders, I didn’t find the style preachy or in any way openly commenting on them. Instead, the novel is simply a snap-shot of what life can be like for those struggling with similar issues.  I personally loved this as it allowed me to fall into the world of Diana and, as it is told through her point of view, understand her decisions while feeling incapable of changing them, as the others in the book are.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants a slice of reality while retaining the light side of the struggles.  I think anyone trying to understand eating disorders especially should pick this book up.

The only thing I didn’t love was the ending, as it felt a little too neat and tidy for a book based in reality as this one is. However, I am certainly looking forward to reading more by Arens.

*I received this book free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Review: The Gift by Rachel Newcomb

ImageTitle: The Gift

Author: Rachel Newcomb

Publisher: Smashwords

Published: June 2013

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 4.5/5

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Celia, a Princeton scholarship student and aspiring writer, feels that she hasn’t had enough ‘life experience’ to have anything worthwhile to write about. So when she has to get a new job, she takes a chance on a newspaper advert for an egg donor.

Elise, a freelance editor, is determined to have a child and refuses to accept that her body won’t naturally create one.  Elise is impressed with Celia’s written application and selects her, however Elise is determined to get to know Celia in the process.

Peter, Elise’s husband, is a Princeton Grad student, struggling to complete his dissertation.  Between the stress of starting a family and Elise quitting her job, Peter finds it increasingly difficult to find his focus.

When I started reading, I wasn’t sure whether it would be something I would enjoy. However, that soon left my mind as I became enchanted with Rachel Newcomb’s words.  There were so many times I had to stop and just drink in the beauty of the language used, which is something I rarely find in a book.  This, surprisingly, didn’t detract in any way from the story.  The main reason for this, in my opinion, is the strong and real characters Rachel has created; the fact that the story is told through a mix of the three main character’s perspectives only strengthened this.

I felt I could really relate to Celia.  She is a young woman with dreams of becoming a writer, but once at College/University Celia starts to become aware of how sheltered her upbringing in South Carolina was and begins to worry that without exciting adventures, she won’t have anything to write about.  While I related most with Celia, I could empathise with all the characters, feeling that I knew them as if they were friends.

Despite the controversial topics raised in this novel, I feel that The Gift is a novel about three people finding themselves and not simply constructed in an attempt to share the author’s opinions.  There was enough information for me to understand what was going on in the sense of the egg donation, but that wasn’t the focus of the story.  The novel completely revolves around the characters and I was sorry that it had to end.  Though the beginning was a little slow, the only main issue I had with this novel is the title.  The book felt so unique that I wished it had a title that not only encapsulated that, but one that won’t be easily confused with other novels (such as The Gift by Cecelia Ahern).

I would recommend The Gift to anyone who appreciates the beauty of language, as well as those looking for an interesting contemporary read which doesn’t allow the subject to create a heavy cast over it.  I am definitely planning to read more novels by Rachel Newcomb.

[Disclaimer: I received this ebook in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.]