Five Reasons Why You Should Read Press Play by @eric_devine

Press Play


In the spirit of full disclosure I want to say that I agreed to read and review this book because even though the main character is a white male and there’s been a lot of white male protagonist dissing going on in the diversity community I feel this story is important to tell.  And here’s why this story is important;

  1. Overweight hero
  2. Hazing (need I say more?)
  3. Bullying
  4. Sexual harassment
  5. Suicide

Now if those topics don’t merit attention then I don’t know what book should! Devine is a high school teacher, so he knows the minutiae of a high schooler’s day. Having high schoolers of my own, I know that high school is more difficult today than it was when I went.  Our “hero, Dun the Tun, is an overweight kid who documents his weight loss through film. He inadvertently captures some pretty violent hazing on the boys’ lacrosse team.  As Greg is a frequent target of bullying from this group of kids, he struggles with what to do with this new information.

I must warn you that the book is graphic. There is graphic language and violence. It’s difficult to imagine that kids can be so cruel, but left unchecked by equally cruel adults, this is what kind of world we would live in.  I must also warn you that Greg is an unreliable hero. He makes mistakes and he lies and that’s all part of what makes this story so gripping. It’s not always easy to do the right thing when you’re angry and you’ve got a debt to repay.

I stayed up late to finish this book and then I couldn’t turn my brain off. There were so many thoughts running around in my head. So many thoughts.

So many.

Good read for anyone who likes gritty realistic fiction. Think Fight Club for teens.

And we all know what the first rule of Fight Club is, right?


Young Adult

The Ford 99 Test with @eric_devine author of Press Play


Tomorrow I’ll post my review of Press Play by my new BFF Eric Devine. Today, however, I wanted to have a little fun and share the test that I gave to Eric. See, Eric is high school teacher so I thought he might be keen on TAKING  a test, rather than GIVING the tests. Naturally, he could not not say no to my incessant nagging charms and consented to take the Ford 99 Test.

I love the Ford 99 Test because it gives the author a chance to drill down on a particular issue in the story. Kind of like Inside the Actor’s Studio with what’s his name except I’m not what’s his name and the authors are not actors. But whatever, right?  It’s a chance to have an in depth discussion with the author which is always fun, right?

So. I asked Devine to open up Press Play to page 99 and share some behind the scenes action.  Here we go:

Page 99 in Press Play begins with this bit of narration from Greg Dunsmore, the protagonist:

“I lift my arms and Alva and Gilbey look at me like I’m a magician.”

Seems fairly innocuous, right? No, not even close.

Alva and Gilbey are Greg’s tormentors. They are the captains of the lacrosse team and are starting to wonder if Greg, who is known to secretly record people with his phone, has just done so while they preyed upon a freshman teammate.

They’re right, Greg has been, and for all the right reasons. During his self-imposed weight loss challenge and documentary (Greg tips the scale at 352 at the opening of the novel), Greg and his friend/personal trainer, Quinn, accidentally find the lacrosse team brutally hazing the underclassmen. Greg secretly recorded that incident, and has since recorded the subsequent events he’s had access to.

The problem is that the school’s principal is the team’s coach, and he seems, at minimum, complicit in the hazing. He is also well connected to the Superintendent. In fact, every outlet Greg can think of to turn to with his evidence is tainted with former players in a town devoted to its lacrosse team. Therefore, all he can do is get as much evidence as possible, and figure out the rest as he goes.

But, here, on page 99, the lax bros have spotted him, and they want the tool of Greg’s trade, his phone.

The page before has this bit of narration:

“And so I do what I have to in order to survive. I reach behind me and wedge my phone in between my ass cheeks. And then I clamp down. Hard. It seems as if all the squats have paid off, because it doesn’t slide at all.”

So, here Greg stands, having mystified the brutal youth for a moment, until they think it through.

“Alva pins me to the lockers and pats me down. He even lifts my belly to check the fold. Embarrassing, but thorough. He stops at my crotch and looks up. ‘Tell me you didn’t put it in there.’”

What ensues is a pivotal moment for Greg. In the past, he has protected himself with the films he creates, a veritable cocoon, because of the deception they weave. But he doesn’t have that choice now. He has to sacrifice his phone or himself. He has to decide how far he wants to take his investigation, because if Alva and Gilbey get his phone, the game is over. However, if he refuses to hand it over, then the pain has only just begun.

Toward the end of the page, Alva says to Greg, “That’s how this works, Dun. Hand it over now.”

Greg’s response: “And you know that will never fucking happen.” I look him straight in the eye, just in case it drives home the point of never.

And what follows is a terrible moment of pain and public humiliation. But Greg has remained true to himself. The question is whether that will be enough to carry him through the rest of the novel.

Guess you’ll have to read to find out 🙂

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As gross as it seems, stuffing the phone in his backside is a smart move for several reasons

  1. the lax bros won’t think to look there
  2. even if they figure out it’s there, who wants to touch something that’s in someone’s butt?
  3. the thought of being wrestled to the ground and having the phone forcibly removed is only equally as disgusting as the thought of actually doing the wrestling and sticking your hand in his butt to get the phone. And then back to #2.

Are ya ready to read my full review tomorrow?

yeah ya are.