Play On (Play On #1) by Samantha Young

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ARC provided to me by author Samantha Young in exchange for an honest review.

This summer has been the summer of me just wanting to read romance. So, I may or may not have went on a binge request streak last month, just requesting ARCs from romance authors that many of my friends praise that had new and upcoming releases. Play On is a new adult contemporary romance that follows a girl, who moves across the world, to make a better life for herself. Of course, things do not go as planned, and the story ends up being about knowing your worth, putting yourself first, and still allowing yourself to love and be loved again.

I read this in one sitting last night.

“You would think after numerous attacks of grief the human body would be unable to process any more sadness. But our hearts have an annoying amount of endurance.”

I loved this, I loved this completely. Our main protagonist, Nora, is from a small town in Indiana, where her family isn’t making her life any easier. She is eighteen, just graduated high school, and is working a job in the fast food industry. She is also being constantly haunted from losing someone very close to her in her past, and that event has shaped Nora to the very core of who she is. She isn’t happy, she doesn’t have anything to look forward to, and then she meets two boys from Scotland, who are road tripping through the States.

Nora’s life is changed forever, and even though she is hoping it would be changed for the better, life ends up throwing her another unexpected punch. She is now twenty-two, and once again trying to start over and create a life that she can be proud of doing.

Nora has always dreamt of going to college and pursuing theater. It is a hidden dream, that she’s never felt she could pursue, so instead she volunteers reading and performing for kids at the local children’s hospital. Childhood cancer stories are normally ones I stay very far away from, because they hit too close to my own personal life, but this one was heartwarmingly done. I mean, I was crying every sentence the kids were mentioned, but it was well done, yet I still think important to mention that childhood illness is represented in this book. Trigger warnings for that (childhood illness, mostly cancer), verbal abuse, and emotional abuse.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Nora has had a very difficult life, and she is only twenty-two. Yet, her path continually crosses with a very attractive Scot, who is dealing with his own set of problems. Aidan is a very successful music producer, who has recently had his life turn upside down, too.

And then our story truly becomes a story of Nora discovering her worth, and how her worth is not dependent on her family, her job, or her education. She learns that hope is far more powerful than she ever realized. She learns that kindness to others can bring kindness to you, as well. She learns that she is loveable and capable. She learns that independence does not always mean being alone. And she learns that life is always worth living.

Now everything I just mentioned above made me fall completely in love with this story. It was amazing and I simply could not put it down. I was sure this was going to be five stars and the best romance book I’ve read all year. Then, I hit the 80% mark, and a very annoying miscommunication plotline popped up. Which was fine, I can deal, Nora has been through worse and I had a good feeling everything would work out in the end. Yet, instead of it working itself out immediately, she was verbally and emotionally abused in a space that was supposed to be safe for her.

Also, we started getting into hate to love territory, but it felt so out of character. Like, Nora is an amazing character and she deserved better. I found myself rooting for Nora to just be alone, after me believing in this magical love story for 80%! I guess I was satisfied with the ending, but that last little bit just seemed rushed and had too much abusive conflict in it for me to give this a five star rating.

I still completely recommend this. I mean it when I say that I could not put this book down. It’s completely immersive and the very definition of addictive. And I think this was overall such a strong book for me to start of Samantha Young’s work. I now want to read any and everything by her.

This book is a very different new adult contemporary romance, too. In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve read anything like this ever. It truly is a unique reading experience, with a lot of very unexpected twists. Plus, like I said above, the messages about finding yourself and knowing your own self-worth were really amazingly done and I completely recommend them to any human being. Also, this reads very much like a standalone, which I also really appreciated.

Please pick this book up if you’re looking to feel all the emotions. One chapter I was bawling my eyes out, feeling more anguish than my little body knew what to do with. Then, the next chapter, I was grinning like a love-struck idiot feeling all the warmth in the world. This book has amazing writing, the storylines are all addicting, and the messages are so important.

“If you’re to be mine, I need all of you to be mine, because all of me is yours.”

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

5 thoughts on “Play On (Play On #1) by Samantha Young

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