Friday, 2 July 2010
Review: This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Released: May 25th, 2010
Grade rating: B+
Olivia Peters is over the moon when her literary idol, the celebrated novelist and muchadored local priest Mark D. Brendan, offers to become her personal writing mentor. But when Father Mark’s enthusiasm for Olivia’s prose develops into something more, Olivia’s emotions quickly shift from wonder to confusion to despair. Exactly what game is Father Mark playing, and how on earth can she get out of it?
This Gorgeous Game is a chilling tale of obsession, boundaries and crossing the line. It shows just what happens when those friendship lines are blurred, and how easy it is for adults to abuse their power. At times creepy and unpleasant, This Gorgeous Game delves into a world of right and wrong, and the ramifications of trusting the wrong person.
I had no trouble relating to, and liking, Olivia. All she wanted was to excel at her writing, and to make a good impression on her new mentor, renowned author and priest Father Mark. Things started out innocent enough, with coffee meetings and story improvement sessions. All too soon, proceedings take a turn for the creepy, when Father Mark becomes more invested in Olivia than he should be. To say he stalks her is an understatement.
This Gorgeous Game made me realise just how easy it can be to confuse relationships. Olivia trusts Father Mark as she would any other adult in a position of power, and he abuses that trust. Instead of being a teacher and a friend, he takes things to the next level and, ultimately, finds himself obsessed with the very thought of her. Instead of seeing what's happening, Olivia believes she's imagining his advances, and so continues as if everything's normal. It's only when things really start to spiral out of control that she finally clears her head and asks for help, and not a moment too soon.
Although I can't blame Olivia for any of her actions or ignorance, I have been left with a few questions. Why didn't she notice something was awry earlier? Why didn't she confide in someone sooner? These are all valid angles that aren't explored as much as they could have been, thus leaving me with some doubt for Olivia's character. I think she let things go on for too long, and could have addressed events in a more timely fashion.
This Gorgeous Game is a thought-provoking read, and one that will no doubt resonate with teenagers everywhere. You'll be left asking yourself just how far is too far, and when do you speak up? At the very least, it will introduce you to some horrifying possibilities, and may just raise awareness of stalking and what to do in this situation. Realistic stuff.