Author: Rebekah Crane
Publisher: In This Together Media (January 22, 2013)
Age Range: Young Adult
Martina “Marty” Hart is really nice. At least, that’s what people think. It’s Marty’s junior year at Minster High. Minster’s a small town where making great grades, smiling pretty, helping old people, running the new-student Welcoming Committee, and putting up decorations for all the dances–including the totally awful Hot Shot fall hunting celebration–gets you … what? Marty’s not sure. Instead of dreaming about a sororities-and-frats future at nearby University of Michigan, she’s restless, searching for a way out of the box her controlling mother and best frenemy Sarah have locked her in. When Lil–don’t call her Lily!–Hatfield transfers to Minster, Marty gets her chance. Lil’s different. She smokes, wears black, listens to angry punk records, and lives in a weird trailer with her mother. Lil has secrets–secrets that make her a target for all the gossiping and online bullying Minster can muster. But so does Marty. And Marty sees something different in Lil. Something honest. Something real. Playing Nice is the achingly true story of a girl who’s been following the rules for so long she’s forgotten who she was when she started. It’s about falling in love with the wrong people and not seeing the right ones, about the moments in life when you step out of line, take a chance … and begin to break free.
I knew Marty in high school. The person who was nice to everyone. She didn’t think if she liked a person, an activity, a teacher. She just smiled and was nice because that’s who she was. Nice. This is the story of Marty discovering herself…beyond being the “nice person”. This is the classic tale of opposites attract. Not boyfriend-girlfriend attract but two female friends who couldn’t be more different and along the way help each other discover who they really are. Lil discovers her nurturing side and Marty discovering her rebellious side.
As a mom, what appealed to me most about this book was the realistic portrayal of the adults. Too often adults in YA are plot devices. Clueless, against the teenagers, no redeeming qualities. In the beginning the teenagers, particularly Marty, see the adults as black and white, good and evil and have definitely made up their minds about them. But eventually she sees parts of her parents she didn’t even realize were there. It was a satisfying aspect of the story. In fact, all the characters were richly drawn. Each had some good parts, some bad parts. Even when they were being their worst a tiny part of you still felt a kinship to them.
This felt like peeking into a real teenager’s life. I would recommend it for all teens and think it could be an eye opener for many teens into the gray shades of life.