Play Me, I'm Yours by Madison ParkerPublished by Harmony Ink Press
Blurb: Fairy Tate. Twinklefingers. Lucy Liu. Will the taunting ever end? Lucas Tate suffers ridicule because of his appearance and sensitive nature. When he’s not teased, he’s ignored, and he doesn’t know which is worse. He feels unloved by everyone, but the one comfort in life is his music. What he wants more than anything is to find a friend.
Much to his dismay, both his mom and a schoolmate are determined to find him a boyfriend, despite the fact Lucas hasn’t come out to them. His mom chooses a football player who redefines the term “heartthrob,” while Trish pushes him toward the only openly gay boy at Providence High. But Lucas is harboring a crush on another boy, one who writes such romantic poetry to his girlfriend that hearing it melts Lucas into a puddle of goo. All three prospects seem so far out of his league. Lucas is sure he doesn’t stand a chance with any of them—until sharing his gift for music brings him the courage to let people into his heart.
Review: If you had a chance to read Madison Parker's debut short story, "Sock It to Me, Santa," you already have an inkling of this burgeoning author's talent. Play Me, I'm Yours is her first full-length novel, and it is sure to be immensely successful.
Parker has a gift, not only when it comes to word crafting, but also with characterization. She's able to bring her characters to life in a realistic, memorable way that peels back layer after layer of their complex personalities. She avoids the pitfalls so many authors fall into of over dramatizing her villains and lionizing her protagonists. Instead, they are real people--flawed and complicated. You love them and hate them and sometimes want to smack them upside the head. But when it comes to her main character Lucas, you're going to want to pull him into an embrace and squeeze him so tightly you'll never let go.
Lucas is a doll. His tender heart and sensitivity make him the most sympathetic of characters, but he is also funny and talented. On every page he makes me smile and laugh and (several times) cry. I wanted him to have a protector, a hero, a knight in shining armor--not because Lucas appeared pathetic and weak, but because I loved him so very much.
And the love interest Zach...what can I say? Magnificently flawed. Every bit a man but 100% boy. Irritatingly sexy. Ridiculously romantic. I could go on, but the point is that he was absolutely perfect for Lucas.
Setting aside the dynamic of the romantic relationship, I think this young adult story is so amazing because of the realistic portrayal of Lucas's family life. There were times I really wanted to grab hold of his mother's shoulders and shake her. She did things that were utterly stupid, but don't all parents? Don't parents do things like this when they love their children...sometimes too much?
And I cringed every time Lucas's brother Mason made an appearance. He was so embarrassed by his sensitive, effeminate older brother. This was SO real to me. Seriously, siblings are embarrassed of each other all the time, even when there's nothing to be embarrassed about, and I totally get why Mason was such a jerk about having a gay brother. But the arc of this character was just beautiful. We saw Mason mature right before our eyes.
The cornerstone of this plot, though, in my humble opinion, is the relationship that Lucas has with his father. Finally a true-to-life YA GLBT novel that portrays a loving father/son relationship! I'm so thrilled that Parker did not succumb to the distant-father/dominant-mother stereotype. It was beautiful the way Lucas and his father connected, especially at the end of the story.
I share a connection with this author, so perhaps some will question my objectivity here. But I want to stress that every word of this review is sincere, and my feelings about the story are in no way related to my feelings for Madison Parker. The writing was spectacular, but more than that, the story struck a chord in my heart.
I honestly think this is THE book of the year--award worthy. Five stars PLUS.
Review by Jeff