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The Believing Game by Eireann Corrigan
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The Believing Game

by Eireann Corrigan

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I could say, "The Believing Game is a creepy book", and leave it like that, because it's true. I lost count of the creepy situations scattered throughout the pages and the number of times it gave me jitters. If disquieting is what you want, then The Believing Game by [a:Eireann Corrigan|16561|Eireann Corrigan|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1224298099p2/16561.jpg] is the book for you.

Greer Cannon is caught shoplifting and as punishment is sent to McCracken Hill, a school for troubled teens where they earn privileges like the use of shampoo and conditioner and meet with therapists who help them recover from troubled pasts. Then Greer meets Addison Bradley and the two fall head over heels in love with each other. Addison then introduces her to his sponsor - Joshua - and the creepy begins.

Joshua is a charismatic character who burrowed his way into Addison's life and poses as a mentor for the troubled teen. He convinces Addison, Greer and a few of their friends to go away with him to a cabin in the woods (owned by Sophie, one of Greer's friends from McCracken) and there he breaks them down and tells them about his plans for the future.

Joshua uses the weaknesses of each of the teens to force them to bend to his will. He uses them for their money and makes them feel guilty about being rich. He makes them feel reprehensible for assuming that he was Jewish because of his name and then for assuming that he couldn't be Jewish because he was black. He uses everything about them to make them submissive and loyal to him. On a scale of one to ten, Joshua is a 20 on the creepster scale.

I enjoyed Corrigan's writing style. Greer's narrative flowed easily on the pages and I was, at many points, able to sympathize with her about her family situation. However, I can't say I completely enjoyed Greer as much as I hoped I would. While she seemed to have a good head on her shoulder - she figured out earlier on that Joshua was not to be trusted - Addison was her blind-spot. She had a lot of opportunities to try to make him understand what was going on with Joshua, but she was too afraid of losing him so she tied her own hands and caused me frustration as a reader.

In spite of (or perhaps, because of) their flaws, I thought that the teens were likable and complex. I wish that we saw more background on each of the characters - or that we were told more about what happened to them in the end - though I must admit that the way it ended seems perfect for the story.

I should also note that while the book itself is not graphic there are a lot of references to abuse, addiction, rape and things that might not be suitable - or might be triggers - for some readers.

This book should not be taken lightly, you've been warned, it's creepy. ( )
  iShanella | Dec 2, 2016 |
A private academy. A cult leader. A girl caught in the middle.

After Greer's caught shoplifting (again) she's sent to McCracken Hill. Part boarding school, part rehab, McCracken Hill is home to troubled teens with a plethora of issues from alcohol and/or drug dependency to eating disorders to Greer's shoplifting habit.

The school's high regimented operation doesn't please Greer and she's ready to be out of there -- until she meets Addison. Addison Bradley, charming and handsome appears to have McCracken Hill and the process more figured out than Greer does and soon is introducing her to his mentor, Joshua.

Despite a ban on relationships, Addison and Greer soon seem captivated with each other.

There's only one problem. The closer she gets to Addison, the more Greer starts to question Joshua and not only his presence in Addison's life but his influence. How did Joshua become such a key part of Addison's life? The more and the harder Greer tries to find out, the more trouble she uncovers. Greer'll find out that as strange as it seemed to be in their circle, it's scarier outside it.


Once I was finally able to read The Believing Game (something about the epub did not agree with my computer or ereader and kept freezing and/or shutting down the programs), it was hard to stop! All of the frozen new chapter starts were so frustrating. This is a book that pulls you in and you really just want to keep reading it regardless of what else you may have to do.

Some stories make a reader uncomfortable inadvertently. Either the characters actions or the way things as a whole unfold is just wrong but it never comes across as intentional or purposeful. Other times, you know it's what was meant but that intention ruins it. In The Believing Game I believe completely that Eireann Corrigan meant for things to be incredibly uncomfortable -- for some of the characters and readers, alike -- and it is.

Even though I couldn't stop reading The Believing Game (except for when the app/program stopped it for me), a tiny part of me wanted to just to have a break from the feeling that was created being a part of everything with these characters (really one in particular) after a while. To have one character make me feel that ill at ease, while the story continues to still, paradoxically, be so hard to put down, is a brilliant accomplishment.

The Believing Game is something that I saw on NetGalley and knew I had to request and I'm not at all sorry I did, at all. It's a fantastic read with fantastically crafted characters.

It is a YA read but some of the content, phrasing, etc may not be quite suitable for younger YA readers.


9/10

(egalley received from publisher through NetGalley; review originally posted on Book Sp(l)ot Reviews)
  BookSpot | May 18, 2015 |
When 16-year-old Greer is caught shoplifting, her parents pack her off to McCracken Hill, a home for rich teens with “issues” where she meets Addison.

Read the rest of my review at: http://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/the-believing-game-eireann-co... ( )
  ShouldIReadIt | Sep 26, 2014 |
Greer is sent to a school for troubled teens after she's caught shoplifting. There she meets Addison and they start dating. Addison introduces her to his friend Joshua, an older man who is also Addison's Narcotics Anon sponsor. Joshua slowly gathers a group of them together into what resembles a cult. Greer must balance her care for Addison with the fear thatt if she does anything against Joshua, Addison may turn against her. ( )
  ShellyPYA | Aug 24, 2013 |
You read this review and more like it at Pretty Deadly Reviews.

If you follow me on Goodreads, and saw my status updates, you know how overwhelmed and conflicted this book makes me feel. The Believing Game tackles a lot of heavy issues all at once, and at times that felt confusing and overwhelming. But the subject matter was so intense, and the characters so likeable that I just had to keep reading.

Greer, a petty thief who steals things like makeup and sunglasses from pharmacies and grocery stores, gets herself caught for the last time. Her parents, a distant mother, and a lawyer father, ship her off to McCracken Hill Academy. McCracken is reform school for rich kids, with its sprawling green lawns, ornate iron gates, and treatment teams. There she has to learn to earn her privileges back (like shampoo and conditioner - yes, I'm serious.) and how to navigate new friendships with a motley crew of messed-up kids.

Greer always felt real to me. She had a good head on her shoulders, despite the bad decisions she made to land her in McCracken. She was very empowered, even through the crazy ordeal with the cult - which I will get to. I loved that Corrigan wrote a sex-positive female lead. Greer was not the proper little virgin that we are used to seeing, and the best part was that she never apologized for it.

Sometimes it's like that, I wanted to say. Sometimes seeing your own bare limbs soaked in the moonlight is sacred. Sometimes you need to know you can make someone else shake and sigh.

Now, Greer isn't perfect when it comes to her sexuality. She sometimes uses sex as a weapon. But the difference is she knows it and she owns it, and tries to do things better.

It was hard for me to watch Greer lose herself in Addison, and ultimately Joshua's influence. At first I really loved the romance, but then things took a turn for the creepy. Addison didn't do anything wrong, exactly, but slowly and surely Greer's identity was taken away from her by Joshua, Addison's scary, controlling mentor. Joshua (a 40 year old man) insisted on sleeping in her bed with her, and refused to call her by her name, instead referring to her as Elizabeth, her middle name. Greer always made excuses for it, in the beginning, and eventually I think she even fell for Joshua's lies.

Joshua was the creepiest creeper to ever creep. He had a Manson air about him. He fancied himself a vessel through which God communicated with the teens. He somehow wormed his way into their lives using lies and confusing language, and even convinced the dean of McCracken to let him take the group for a field trip away from the school for a weekend. It was there that his hold really took. He inserted himself into every aspect of Greer's life, even into her sex life shared with Addison.

I cannot explain well enough how scary it was reading this. All the signs for scary were there, but he made the kids believe that it was their fault they were scared. He used issues of gender identity against them: forcing the girls and the boys into their traditional gender roles. He used the issue of racism against them: they were all spoiled rich white kids taught by society to fear the black man. He used religion against them: made them feel terrible for assuming he was Jewish because of his name, or that he couldn't be Jewish because of his race.

Joshua was a complex character, and it was just as interesting as it was scary to watch him reel these kids in. He seemed to have the formula down, almost as if he'd done this before. He earned their trust completely, and so when he said things like "going to war against militant vegans" no one questioned it. No one but Greer. And Sophie.

The characters in The Believing Game were unreliable at best. You could never tell what was the truth, what was lies, and what was manufactured by Joshua himself. Sophie, Greer's best friend, was not immune to this. She is damaged and hurting, and we don't really understand why, or the full extent of it, until close to the very last page. She was one of my favorite characters from this book. Her actions and her level head in the face of all the craziness was inspiring and beautiful.

I said earlier that this book tackles some tough topics. Greer has issues beyond just being an adrenaline junkie into shoplifting. She has an eating disorder, a strange complex with boys, and has a great deal of trust issues when it comes to girls. We sort of learn the history behind the disordered eating, but I really wish it had been handled better. The whole thing felt tacked on and I felt it should have been more serious. I have first hand experience with eating disorders, and I know that every waking moment is spent obsessing over it. But with Greer it felt like an aside. Like it wasn't even something she was aware of. It felt less like a disorder and more like a habit.

I suspect that the inability to go without a boyfriend or sex partner stemmed from her lack of relationships with other people. She had no friends and no connections with her family members. She felt wholly abandoned by her father, and felt personally the perceived injustices against a cousin of hers. Her environment was breeding ground for trust issues, and I think that's why is was so easy for her to become consumed by Addison and later, someone else.

I loved the writing style for the most part. It was beautiful and sparse in some areas. Some parts were just poetry.

We kept laughing. And we kept learning. "I want my hands to memorize you," he said.

Then I sprinted to Empowerment Hall as fast as possible and tried to outrun the realization that I'd traded in leaning on one guy for leaning on another.

I loved how Corrigan chose to narrate the book. Every once in a while it was made clear that this was Greer reflecting on what happened, speculating about hit, wondering at hers and the others' motivations. It was delicious, and added to the mystery and Greer's unreliability. The only complaint I had was the lack of real dialog tags. They were there, but the conversation and lack of paragraph breaks was confusing. Sometimes it was hard to tell who was saying what, and sometimes Greer's and Addison's voiced blended into one. I wonder if it was done that way on purpose - it certainly makes sense if it was. But I couldn't help but be pulled out of the story when this happened.

In all, I'm not really sure how I felt about this. There were some triggering issues (addiction, self harm, abortion, and rape - nothing graphic, but still could be mildly triggering.) I loved how rich and vivid the characters were. Corrigan certainly made me understand and even accept the kids' willingness to believe anything Joshua told them. But the ending felt very rushed, and almost like a cop out. I felt a little let down and unsettled, but that's how most of the characters felt anyway. Another thing that I'm sure was purposeful. Corrigan makes it clear what her intent is with this book and it worked - by god did it work. ( )
  PrettyDeadly | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0545299837, Hardcover)

A private academy. A cult leader. A girl caught in the middle.

After Greer Cannon discovers that shoplifting can be a sport and sex can be a superpower, her parents pack her up and send her off to McCracken Hill-a cloistered academy for troubled teens. At McCracken, Greer chafes under the elaborate systems and self-help lingo of therapeutic education. Then Greer meets Addison Bradley. A handsome, charismatic local, Addison seems almost as devoted to Greer as he is to the 12 steps. When he introduces Greer to his mentor Joshua, she finds herself captivated by the older man's calm wisdom. Finally, Greer feels understood.

But Greer starts to question: Where has Joshua come from? What does he want in return for his guidance? The more she digs, the more his lies are exposed. When Joshua's influence over Addison edges them all closer to danger, Greer decides to confront them both. Suddenly, she finds herself on the outside of Joshua's circle. And swiftly, she discovers it's not safe there.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:54 -0400)

After Greer Cannon discovers that shoplifting can be a sport and sex can be a superpower, her parents pack her up and send her off to McCracken Hill-a cloistered academy for troubled teens. At McCracken, Greer chafes under the elaborate systems and self-help lingo of therapeutic education. Then Greer meets Addison Bradley. A handsome, charismatic local, Addison seems almost as devoted to Greer as he is to the 12 steps. When he introduces Greer to his mentor Joshua, she finds herself captivated by the older man's calm wisdom. Finally, Greer feels understood. But Greer starts to question: Where has Joshua come from? What does he want in return for his guidance? The more she digs, the more his lies are exposed. When Joshua's influence over Addison edges them all closer to danger, Greer decides to confront them both. Suddenly, she finds herself on the outside of Joshua's circle. And swiftly, she discovers it's not safe there.… (more)

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