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Summer & Sports | Book Review: Play On by Michelle Smith

Book Review: Play On by Michelle Smith

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play on michelle smith book review

Title & Author: Play On (Lewis Creek) by Michelle Smith

Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary

Release Date: April 21, 2015

Series: Lewis Creek #1

Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

How I Got the Book: Bought


“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.” ”

Hello, Hundred Oaks?

Play On was both what I thought it would and something completely different than expected. It has a very strong similarity of the Hundred Oaks books in that this book’s underlying theme was sports and camaraderie and is the first of the “Lewis Creek” series. Notice a pattern…?

I made the assumption that the story would alternate point of views between Austin, the local baseball star who is desperate need of science tutoring, and Marisa, the new girl who happens to be a chemistry wiz. I was wrong – the story is from Austin’s perspective the whole time.

What made this interesting is that he’s a teenage boy with hormones and he’s got a big personality and a huge heart. What made the story a bit cheesy was Austin’s internal dialogue – I get that he’s a high school guy but the constant ogling of body parts got on my nerves (although I’m sure the same is true for female protagonists who are obsessing over their crushes. I guess I can just relate to that more…).

I know this book is set in the South (I forget where exactly), but all the “Hey girl” and other phrases felt put on to me. I kept asking myself “do people really talk this way?”

What Play On did very well, though, was the portrayal of depression. I wasn’t expecting this in book I thought was going to be fairly light, but the author handled the topic very well, and I appreciated how everything played out.

This story definitely held my attention and kept me turning pages quickly. I think the real disservice is putting readers in mind of Kenneally’s work. That bar is very high, and I don’t think Play On can match it.


Mixing fun, friends, sports and relationships, Play On is a YA contemporary ideal for the summer. Although a few things weren’t to my taste, Play On does offer great insight into dealing with depression in friends and loved ones. I recommend Play On it with reservations.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.