Play On by Michelle Smith

Title: Play On
Author: Michelle Smith
Series: Lewis Creek #1
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Release Date: April 21, 2015

Summary from Goodreads:
In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything.

Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.

Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma’s flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius, she’s also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there’s something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek—he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.

As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa’s pain, it forces him to look beyond the facade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn’t everything—maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.


The first thing that stood out to me about Play On was that it was a contemporary YA romance told solely from a male POV. Male POV is definitely becoming more prevalent in YA, but for this sub-genre, this was my first experience with a male-only voice. But as a fan of male POV, I liked it. Sure there were times I wish I knew what Marisa was thinking but I have those moments every time I read a book with a singular POV. Otherwise, I thought Austin’s voice was authentic and I was just as easily swept up in the story had it been told by a female, or both male and female.

The second thing that stood out to me about Play On was how well it tackled the topic of depression and how it lent a new perspective on suicide. In Play On, Austin was struggling to move passed his father’s suicide. He hated that his dad didn’t love him enough to keep living and he hated himself for never seeing the signs. But as he got to know Marisa and her battle with depression, he came to realize how dark and dangerous of an illness it was and how maybe his father’s death had nothing to do with him.

I loved the relationship between Austin and Marisa. I loved how it was slow and steady – starting with a friendship and an obvious attraction then developing into more. I loved how Austin didn’t run away from Marisa when she opened up about her past despite the fact that it scared the shit out of him. He gave her the love she needed to survive her dark days and in return, she gave him the perspective to forgive his father and move forward.

The baseball theme was an added bonus. I actually managed my school’s baseball team all 4 years of HS so it kind of brought me back to those days and good memories. But even if I hadn’t, as a huge sports fan, I love sports themed novels. I could feel the passion for the sport , the bond among teammates and the power of the crowd. And the ended totally made me tear up as the team played their last home game. I also loved how Marisa could hold her own when it came to sports talk. Girls are so often underestimated when it comes to being a sports fan.

I could go on and on about the things I loved in this book. The friendships. The family dynamics. The yes mams and no sirs. And especially the relationship between Austin’s best friend and another one of his teammates and their battle with coming out to the world. This book was beautifully written and full of emotion. It’s a must read in my opinion.

And I definitely can’t wait to read Eric’s story in the next book in this series.

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