This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas
Published May 25th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Olivia Peters is absolutely over the moon when her literary idol, the celebrated novelist and much-adored local priest Mark D. Brendan, selects her from hundreds of other applicants as the winner of his writing contest.Not only is she invited to take his class at the local university; she also gets one-on-one sessions with him to polish her story and prepare it for publication.
But the writing sessions escalate into emails, and texts, and IMs, and gifts, and social events. What was once a delightful opportunity has become a dreadful burden. What kind of game is Father Mark playing? And how on earth can she get out of it?
Review: I came across this book through the recommentations section of Goodreads and painstakingly went to two different libraries to get a hold of this book. (First of all, can we just take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous the cover of the book is? ) Looking at the synopsis on Goodreads, I was expecting a really horrifying story about a Priest who abuses his power on a high school girl. While I did find myself turning the pages fairly quickly, unfortunately I didn’t find myself enjoying it as much as I thought I would.
This Gorgeous Game is not an explicit story. It’s told in Olivia Peters’ perspective and you follow her thoughts as she tried to understand what is happening to her. I found myself not liking this book for several reasons. The book itself is split into three parts: and introduction to Olivia and her first meeting with Father Mark, then an escalation of their relationship and of course the ending. I found myself incredibly bored towards the middle of book where we begin to see their relationship escalate into something more than a student-teacher relationship. By the end of the book, I was glad it was over.
I understood completely why Olivia reacted the way she did. It’s a very realistic reaction – her state of confusion and her withdrawals is understandably normal for anyone who finds themselves in such a situation. Her reaction and situation makes you feel a lot for her as a character. However, I had trouble with the conversations and her train of thoughts toward the middle. A lot of it was chunks of similar thoughts/conversations and it became increasingly repetitive and predictable.
Freitas didn’t offer me the ending I was looking for. Father Mark didn’t exactly have a backstory; all we knew was that he’s a famous Priest and that he’s a famous writer. We don’t actually find out why he acted the way he did or what was the outcome of his actions towards Olivia. The ending was more Olivia-focused (as is most of the story, seeing how it’s told in her point of view) though it would have been nice to have a small chapter to just explain Father Mark’s behaviour. The ending was a little disappointing, a little predictable but also very vague.
Nevertheless, This Gorgeous Game was an overall good book. It’s a relatively short book with only 200+ pages but it was still able to address a lot of serious issues within those pages. Like Tampa, the book provides a good look at the abuse of power from the people we believed we could trust. The book was fairly realistic and gives you an insight through the victim’s point of view (unlike Tampa which followed the perpetrator).