Review: Play On by Michelle Smith

Play On by Michelle Smith

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.

Title: Play On
Author: Michelle Smith
Publication date: April 21, 2015

It’s Opening Day, one of the best days of the year! We’ll be watching the Cardinals play the Pirates from home this afternoon, but as always on Opening Day, hot dogs and peanuts will be on the menu for dinner. (Or lunch, since it’s a 12:05pm game and we’ll probably eat during the game.) In order to get ready for baseball season this year, I, of course, watched as many spring training games as I could and I read Play On. I’ve had this book for awhile but I actually saved it to read during March just to get myself in the mood for the season.

After all that anticipation, I really would have been disappointed if I didn’t like the book, but Play On was just as good as I hoped it would be!

Play On is written from Austin’s point of view. The male perspective is unusual for a YA romance, but I had no trouble getting right into his head. Austin loves baseball and his mom and he can’t wait to get out of his small southern town. He’s headed for the University of South Carolina to play baseball — if he can pass chemistry. If he can’t, he won’t even be finishing out his senior year as a player on his high school team. Lucky for Austin, Marisa has just moved to town and taken a job in his mother’s flower shop. And she’a science genius. Their first meeting in a barbecue joint left me smiling and I knew then that I was going to love this book. Austin is a great character and even though I don’t feel like I know Marisa as well as I usually know the female character in a book, I like her too. She’s funny and smart and a good match for Austin. The book takes a dark turn when it comes to Marisa’s past, and I like the way it ties into Austin’s unresolved issues with his father’s death.

Unfortunately, the one negative about Play On is that it’s a classic case of instalove. I thought it was funny that I was reading along, thinking that Marisa and Austin were just getting to know each other and then I realized that Austin already considered himself in love with Marisa. It made me feel like I was missing important scenes, but I liked the book so much otherwise that I’m willing to overlook it.

Play On is full of baseball and southern charm. I can’t wait to read the companion book that comes out later this year. Austin’s teammates were part of the fun of Play On and I hope that, even though most of them are off to college, I’ll get to read more about them (and Austin and Marisa!) in Game On.

4 stars



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