Playing Defense by Cate Cameron

Synopsis:
25447694Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains adult language, swoon-worthy kisses, and sexy hockey players. It may cause you to watch a hockey game…or ten.

Sixteen-year-old Claudia Waring has never kissed a boy. Never been popular. Never been to a hockey game. All that’s about to change. Assigned to tutor Chris Winslow, a prank-loving, gorgeous hockey player, Claudia’s perfectly planned life immediately veers off course. And she kind of likes it. But as fun as Chris is, she knows she’ll never fit in his world.

After his latest prank lands him in hot water, Chris has to get serious about school or lose hockey. Not an easy thing for someone as carefree as the defenseman. The biggest problem, though, is how much he wants to help his cute, buttoned-up tutor loosen up a little. But while confidence has never been a problem for him, around Claudia, Chris is all nerves. Why would a girl as smart as her ever fall for a jock like him?

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My Review:
4 stars — I received a copy of this book through NetGalley!

This was a quintessential YA book….it wasn’t just a romance, it had a lot of exploring the growth of both characters in it as well.  And I actually really enjoyed the kind of blunt look it took on the issues that might face some teens, and that the environment in the high school wasn’t so stereotypical and over the top.  There were social circles, but it wasn’t all Mean Girls all the time…I appreciated that Claudia wasn’t horribly teased and ridiculed, but more like ignored I guess.  And while there were mentions of parties after the hockey games, they weren’t some lavish affairs like we see in so many teen movies.

I also appreciated the way the characters talked about sex — it felt reasonable and realistic.  It wasn’t a topic that was avoided, but it wasn’t the whole focus either if that makes sense.  Chris wasn’t some manwhore, but he also wasn’t a virginal saint.  His views were reasonable for a teenage boy — definitely a fan, but not to the exclusion of all else.  I’m not sure I’m making any sense, I just read the part where they were discussing it and I was impressed that it didn’t fall into the usual tropes.

I really liked both Claudia and Chris.  They each had their challenges to go through (and not just the ones from the sisterhood).  I felt like these could be real kids in high school…Claudia dealing with the pressure of high achieving academics and Chris dealing with his own sense of worth and fear of failure.  And I liked how they were with each other.  You could really feel what was drawing them together, even if they didn’t have a lot in common.

I think my favourite part was the sisterhood of awesomeness.  I didn’t expect all these other secondary characters to play such a role, but I enjoyed the discoveries they were making with each other, and watching them try to grow and become more than they were.

I was a bit dismayed with Claudia’s mother.  She was honestly horrific.  She was so prejudiced, and narrowly focused on what *she* wanted for Claudia’s life.  I kind of would have liked to see Claudia stand up to her a bit more and for her mother to at least see some of Claudia’s side, but I guess it’s kind of realistic that she may not…it’s a more realistic outcome, but in that case I was hoping for a more storybook resolution, kwim?

This book had me laughing, crying, and feeling all the feels (from dismay to hope).  And I didn’t even realize it was a Canadian author or would be set in Canada before I started reading, so that was a bit of a bonus to me.  Will definitely be checking out the first book in this series to read about Tyler and Karen’s story.

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7 thoughts on “Playing Defense by Cate Cameron

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