Book Reviews

Playing Along by: Rory Samantha Green

17190005[1]Two Lives. Two Continents. One Song…

Then: George Bryce was an awkward, English schoolboy fantasizing about being in a band.

Now: George is frontman of Thesis, an overnight indie scene sensation. Intense, creative and self-deprecating, his childhood dreams have all been fulfilled – so why does George still feel so lost?

Then: Lexi Jacobs was a confident Californian high school cheerleader, planning her future marriage and a meaningful career.

Now: Lexi is searching for substance in a life full of mishaps. Cautious, bemused and rapidly losing the control she used to rely on, none of her teenage dreams have delivered and she’s left wondering, “What next?”

Follow George and Lexi as they navigate their days thousands of miles apart. Fly with them from London to LA and back again, as George copes with the dynamics of his tight knit band and loose knit family, while Lexi juggles her eccentric new boss, bored best friend and smother mother.

Even though there’s an ocean between them and their worlds couldn’t be further apart, George and Lexi are pulled together through music, and their paths appear determined to cross.
The question is – when? (Synopsis from Goodreads)

Playing Along is one of those books that you come across, read voraciously, and are left wanting more. No cliffhanger, just wanting to know what happens next to your new found “book friends”.

George and Lexi are so well developed that you feel as if you know them and are part of their completely different worlds. This is one of those stories where the author amazingly makes you feel their joy, sadness, uncertainty and longing with her descriptive words not just by telling you. You are rooting for them to find one another.

“For all the love songs he has ever written-he himself has felt so little love. For all the hearts he is responsible for making throb-his own heart has stayed so still. Until now.” ~George

As a reader, you become engrossed in each of their lives. It’s easy to do, when the secondary characters are painted so clearly, each adding a layer to the story. George’s band mates are no exception: Simon, the guitar playing “foodie”, Mark, the married bassist and Duncan, the “free spirited” drummer. Throw in Fanny Arundel, fellow singing success and UK’s answer to Katy Perry, to stalk George and things get hairy. Gabe, Thesis’ manager and father figure is described as half Prince Charles and half Bob Marley. George’s family back in England are part of the story in retrospect and at a few homecoming visits, but you feel their negative impact on George’s self esteem with their lack of interest in his success.

Lexi also has quite the colorful ensemble. Roommate and ex-boyfriend Andrew has come out of the closet. High school best friend Meg is a desperate housewife and has all the things that Lexi dreamed about but paints a pathetic picture of domestic life. New boss Russell is passionate about the environment and obsessed with his cat, Boris. Lexi’s mother, Jeanette, has some of the funniest, yet sound advice I have read on relationships.

“She remembers her mother once trying to talk to her about sex when she was a teenager. ‘Boys like to compare it to baseball, sweetheart. I like to compare it to shopping. At first you browse. Then you touch. Then you try. And finally you buy. Going all the way is like when the saleslady runs your credit card. It’s a very important transaction and not one to be taken lightly…'”.

Rory Samantha Green is a master of the slow build up and romantic burn. You “know” something is going to happen around the corner and that just makes you much more eager to keep reading. But rushing and skimming pages won’t get you there any faster, because the details and content are rich and engrossing.

The music/rock star element was spot on. You can understand how a young person’s dream of being a famous musician can backfire when your privacy and longing to be loved is a price to pay for fame and fortune.

“George’s endless conundrum-girls. The irony of being adored by thousands but never truly known by one.”

“The Paradox confounds him-how his lifelong ache to be special has led him to a place of yearning to be ordinary.”

The original lyrics are amazing! Where can I buy this imaginary album? Heartfelt and insightful. George is the perfect songwriter who writes songs about the woman he has yet to meet…sigh.  He is truly a fan’s musician, if that makes sense. He is passionate about how music made him feel growing up, that it spills over into his work. I also appreciate that George wasn’t the clichéd rock star: drugs, sex, self-absorbed. Ms. Green isn’t unrealistic though to the type–she left that for Duncan. 🙂

“George has been unpacking heartache from his sensitive soul since the age of ten.”

“He genuinely believes that in one way or another, the music they make impacts the lives of people who listen to them. He knows only too well what it feels like to be a fan locked in a relationship with one album or even one song. Playing it incessantly. Never enough.”

Even if Lexi feels down at times by her lack of romance and floundering career, she keeps going and doesn’t give up. Her perseverance pays off. The inner snarky dialogue she has with herself is beyond “hilarious” (You’ll get that reference when you read the book ;)) The pity parties are just long enough which makes her feel real and genuine. Loved her “Inner Maria”!

“It took some time for her rose colored glasses to warp and crack, eventually becoming so loose at the screws that they fell apart completely.”

Inner Maria: “She imagines Julie Andrew, suitcase in hand, striding away from the convent, arms swinging forcefully. I’I have confidence in me!'”

I know I am in trouble when I feel like quoting so many lines from a book. Maybe that is called inspired. Moved. Touched.

Playing Along is the complete package of storytelling at it’s finest:  sexy, sweet and loveable rock star, strong and independent female, quirky and  supportive friends, laugh out loud scenes, amazing banter, original music lyrics, dysfunctional families, “the slow burn”, and the perfect ending leaving you hopeful and wanting more.

It’s when we talk ourselves out of things that the possibilities sadly disappear.” ~ Russell

*The great news is that Rory Samantha Green is working on the sequel, where she promises to focus on love-how it delights and complicates our lives.

**Music video to follow this post!!

Amazon        Barnes & Noble

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