Book Review: "This Gorgeous Game" by Donna Freitas

Olivia Peters is over the moon when her literary idol, the celebrated novelist and much adored local priest Mark D. Brendan, offers to become her personal writing mentor. But when Father Mark’s enthusiasm for Olivia’s prose develops into something more, Olivia’s emotions quickly shift from wonder to confusion to despair. Exactly what game is Father Mark playing, and how on earth can she get out of it?

Wow. Seriously, this story was Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down. I was reading this book while eating at a restaurant by myself and I ate my food slowly because I didn't want to get up and interrupt my reading. I don't think I've ever read a book like this before. It's an uncomfortable read. You are not going to walk away from this book feeling happy go lucky. But you will be moved.

Olivia is a high school student who's just won a prestigious writing award and will get to study with a famous author mentor. She's very excited about this and is the envy of everyone else. However after a few meetings with Father Mark, her attitude begins to change. Unfortunately she can't confide in anyone else. That was the scary part for me. To think that she felt so helpless and no one could understand or believe what she was going through. It's scary to think that an adult in a position like Father Mark uses his power to act this way.
While this book does make one uncomfortable, there are never any graphic scenes in the book. Sometimes, just power and mind tricks can be more scarier than physical acts. The story is written extremely well and is from Olivia's point of view so the reader experiences everything, every emotion, every feeling directly from her.

The only qualm I had was that we're never really clear as to what happens to out Father Mark. The reader is never told exactly what Olivia did in revealing the truth to the authorities. Of course we can speculate and it is obvious that she did tell. I personally would have liked him to have died a horrible, painful death for all the trauma that he has inflicted on Olivia. The scary part is that she was probably not the first one who had to go through this and will probably not be the last one.

This book does not blame the church or even religion at all. Faith is actually a huge part of the story as it is pretty much what gets Olivia through all this. As I said earlier, there is nothing graphic or even sexual in the relationship. Just obsessive behavior that is unwanted and inappropriate for someone in Father Mark's position. You cannot walk away from this story without feeling something from it (unless you have no emotions at all). It's an extremely powerful read and one that teens AND adults should read. I will have to go back and read more from Freitas because she really got a hold of me through this book. HIGHLY recommended.

This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas is published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


  1. You are so funny!

  2. Wow! I totally agree that emotional abuse can be scarier than physical abuse.


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