This debut novel by author Rebekah Crane really slammed me between the eyes. All my life I have been a Marty, pleasing and helping anyone and everyone. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I met my Lil. I’ve never had a friend like her. She shook up my quiet, structured, perfect world. We all need that person who will rattle our cage and bring us back to center.
Playing Nice tells the tale of a typical small town high school. You find the standard cliques and expected adolescent behavior. Marty is in charge of the New Student Welcoming Club, and ends up paired with Lil when she moves to town.
To Marty, Lil is downright frightening, but at the same time dangerously intriguing. She can’t help but pursue a friendship with the most unpopular girl in school. It doesn’t take long before tongues are wagging all over town. Vicious rumors spring up that threaten not only the girls’ friendship, but Marty’s spotless reputation.
Lil is shocking and worldly. She’s done things Marty has only daydreamed about. Savvy to the nastier side of human beings, Lil does her best to protect Marty from herself. She is drawn to Marty’s kind and honest spirit, but is careful about dropping the tough girl shield she has constructed to protect herself and her mother.
Fully capturing the spirit of a teenager, Crane took me right back to high school and reunited me with the lusty, passionate emotions of fifteen. This novel rings true if you are thirteen or thirty-three. Though it may have been written for the younger crowd, adults can sink their teeth into it just as well. I look forward to getting my hands on Crane’s next novel, Aspen.