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The Obvious Game by Rita Arens

The Obvious Game (edition 2013)

by Rita Arens

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Title:The Obvious Game
Authors:Rita Arens
Info:Inkspell Publishing (2013), Paperback, 312 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Obvious Game by Rita Arens



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"I was terrified of never feeling happy
again. I was scared of losing Jesse. I was scared of killing myself. I didn’t know if I could stop. I didn’t know if I could not stop.
I didn’t, actually, know anything about myself. "

I didn't actually know what to expect when I first read the blurb of The Obvious Game, so when I knew that it was mainly about anorexia, I was a bit pessimistic. I never read any anorexia-related novel before. But this book totally changes my perceptive. And I glad it did.

The Obvious Game told us about the everyday life of Diana Keller, how she struggled with her mother who had cancer, how she kept up with her friends Amanda, and how she dealt with her past as an overweight kid and was mocked because of it. But when Jesse, a new boy from Kansas City, moved in, everything suddenly changed for Diana. That's when her past decided to come back and haunt her once again. And this time, she had to choose, whether to fight it, or run away from herself.

The plot of this book was actually quite great. It was fast-paced, and I like how not one part was meaningless and sagging, but rather advancing the story even more. Every chapter ended in such an interesting way it made the readers craved for more and more, curious about how it all would ended. I love how the problem seemed to pile up more and more, creating a great tension, and then it all resolved in such a beautiful way. The ending was satisfying too, with all problem solved, and all well ends well. And the concept for The Obvious Game, the game which was originally between Diana and her friend Seth of stating the obvious thing, was quite funny and original as well.

Diana Keller, as our main character, was actually pretty believable. I could totally feel her emotion throughout the book, when she was happy, sad, struggling with her life, etc. She was not all perfect too, which made it easy for readers to relate to her. One thing I loved very much from her was that she represented teenage girls these days perfectly. As a teenage myself, I could really feel what she feel, and yes, everyday we live with insecurities of not being good enough for the society. And Diana sounded just like a true teenage girl.
Jesse, Diana counterpart as well as her first love, was well-developed as well. I love how he could understand Diana's situation perfectly, because he too, had a brother who died from cancer. And not like any other male protagonist out there, Jesse didn't stick around when things got rough, which may be insulting for some readers, but interesting to me actually. It's just so like the real world, where not many people might stick up when his girlfriend got into trouble. I love how Arens made her characters pretty flesh and bone and not just following the stereotypes.
Lin, Diana's soon-to-be friend, was very likable as well. She didn't have any major part early on the book, but when things start to get rough for Diana, the world eventually shown her who her real friend truly was, and that was when Lin started to be something in Diana's life. I love how she was so mature and composed, and she accepted things the way it is, with no complain and whatever.

One thing I'm not quite fond of this book was the character of Amanda, Diana's friend.
Even though most of the character of this book was shaped perfectly with believable flaw and personality, Amanda totally was another story.
I didn't really like her, mainly because she was simply a brat. she did anything however she want, and she totally didn't care about anyone around her. She also acted without thinking first, and then apologized later like it was no big deal, when she didn't know how big the damage she had cause. it's actually okay for an annoying best friend to have this trait, but what made it hard to like her was that she didn't have any redeeming trait at all.

Overall, if you would like to read something that deals with teenage's world : their life, love, insecurities, friendship, betrayal, and a whole lot more, you should definitely give this a try. ( )
  NeysaKristanti | May 5, 2013 |
The Good Stuff

This one was a real challenge for me to read as it is way too close and personal. It's funny how I can speak so openly about wanting to kill myself while suffering with post partum depression but the thought about even discussing this makes me break out in sweats. This girl was almost me and it hurt to read about those same emotions I had and all the stupid shit I used to do to my body. I was very lucky that it never got this far, but I won't lie, it was very close. Even to this day, I am a healthy slimish girl, but will always see my self as the fat girl I used to be
Heartfelt, honest and realistic
Nice uses of humour at just the right moments
nice mentions of faith without being too preachy
Realistic scenes of teenage life
For anyone who has ever suffered from this type of disorder you will understand how true to life this tale is (For example I also cut up all the pictures of me when I was overweight)
hopeful message
Parents are realistic and damaged but never hurtful or stupid like in many YA novels
This isn't your preachy issue book like some of the stuff I read back in high school but a raw and honest account of all the emotions and actions of someone who is suffering. No tied up neatly after school special type of story

The Not So Good Stuff

There are some spots were it jumps around and is disjointed. Hard to explain this late at night but there were a couple of spots were I had to go back a couple of pages to reread and make sure I hadn't missed something (but take this with a grain of salt -- I am a speed reader and this happens quite frequently to me)
Man if Amanda was my friend I would slap that self involved narcissistic girl right across the face
Very raw at times that I felt myself tearing up and wanting to hug the old teenage me

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Plus, people don't really notice when you're doing half the time anyway. They're too busy worrying about themselves."

"The first cut felt smooth, the blades slicing through gleaming photo paper, just the right amount of resistance. I took quite a bit off my butt and thighs, slightly less around my calves. My breathing slowed as I worked, as though my transformation were already happening."

"Everyone trusted me. Good old dependable Diana. Which was why most people didn't notice at first that I was in trouble."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read

All mothers of girls so maybe you can truly understand some of the signs
Any tween or teen
Those who have suffered or suffering from an eating disorder - a good reminder that you are not alone and it will get better
A must have for every junior high, high school and public library

4.5 Dewey's

I received this from Rita Arens in exchange for an honest review ( )
  mountie9 | Feb 28, 2013 |
I have read a few novels that center around eating disorders, but this story is told a bit differently. What makes The Obvious Game stand out to me is that the main character, Diana, does not start out with this problem. She turns to self induced hunger as an aspect of her life that she can control. As her life seems to get more unwieldy and emotionally wracking, the sources of which are out of her domain, she starts reaching for something - a goal - that she can have complete control over. For her, that means not being the "fat girl" anymore. This strive to be skinny, to leave her past behind, to finally be in charge of what happens to her, becomes an obsession. An addition - an illness - which may just take everyone around her down with her.

The novel starts out dated in the early nineties. Honestly, this confused me. The reader is given a specific date, and I kept looking for a reason for this to be relevant. Was there a specific event that happened in that year? Will we get a "ten years later" or something like that towards the end? It wasn't until my interview with the author ( which you can see here ) that I understood what the author was going for. She wanted a time period where Diana wasn't plugged in all the time. Her friends and parents couldn't constantly call or text her. It was time where secrets were easier to hide, and consequentially, help was harder to find. I wish I made this connection on my own, because looking back, I really do see how it adds to the story.

The actual obvious game is when people talk to each other only by saying obvious statements. For instance, if we were having a conversation right now, I would say "I am writing a blog post." To which you would say, "I am reading your review". This doesn't seem like much, but the way in which it is entwined into the story is really well done. The obvious game means something different to each of the characters, and it really seems like another character in itself. For something so silly, it carries a lot of weight in the story. It is both comedic relief for the reader, as well as an odd symbol of hope for Diana. She teaches the game (accidentally) to her love interest, and she wants him to be able to relate, for it to mean as much to him as it does to her. But it isn't his game. The game has ties to Diana and her best friend. Ironically, it is probably the one stable factor in her life, but she just can't see that.

My criticism with this novel is that I was not too keen on Jesse, the new kid/friend/boyfriend figure. I understand the need for some romance to lighten up the very dark plot, but I did not find him likable. He fulfills his role for the evolution of Diana, but I'm not quite sure if it was in the way that was intended. I never saw him as a source of light for Diana, but rather an entity adding to the disfunction and disappointment of her life. I saw him as a figure pushing her towards her eating disorder, not pulling her away from it. Again, I'm not sure if this is intentional, but he does have his role.

Overall, this was an enlightening novel. Previous novels I've read with this subject matter usually take off with the disorder in full swing, giving the reader insights into its origin through flashbacks. Being able to see the triggers and the progression of her anorexia helped me to better understand the disease and become a little more sympathetic to it. ( )
  ilikethesebooks | Feb 12, 2013 |
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“So who is Jesse?” asked Ma.
“The cookies smelled like Ma, like normal, though I didn’t even taste them as they went down. Afterward, they sat in my gut like the waterlogged wig in the sink—and it was too late to take either back.”

““There’s a difference between being better at it and being better, Diana.””

“He looked down at me, turning serious. He was so tall. “You’ve only known Snowden, Diana. It’s amazing how much things can change from one town to the next, when you’re still the same person.””

“"How can I go back to school?”He rubbed my back some more. “Well, Diana, you’ll walk through the door, and there you’ll be.””

“I didn’t notice when Pa walked back into the room, because I was busy trying to memorize the feeling of my mother holding me.”

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 098565628X, Paperback)

"Everyone trusted me back then. Good old, dependable Diana. Which is why most people didn't notice at first."

Praise for The Obvious Game:

"Lovely, evocative, painful and joyful all  in one ... much like high school." -- Jenny Lawson, author of LET'S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED

"I couldn't put down THE OBVIOUS GAME. Arens perfectly captures the hunger, pain and uncertainty of adolescence." -- Ann Napolitano, author of A GOOD HARD LOOK and WITHIN ARM'S REACH

"THE OBVIOUS GAME is a fearless, honest, and intense look into the psychology of anorexia. The characters--especially Diana--are so natural and emotionally authentic that you'll find yourself yelling at the page even as you're compelled to turn it." -- Coert Voorhees, author of LUCKY FOOLS and THE BROTHERS TORRES

"Let's be clear about one thing: there's nothing obvious about THE OBVIOUS GAME. Arens has written a moving, sometimes heart-breaking story about one girl's attempt to control the uncontrollable. You can't help but relate to Diana and her struggles as you delve into this gem of a novel." -- Risa Green, author of THE SECRET SOCIETY OF THE PINK CRYSTAL BALL

"THE OBVIOUS GAME explores the chasms between conformity and independence, faith and fear, discoveries and secrets, first times and last chances, hunger and satisfaction. The tortured teenage experience is captured triumphantly within the pages of this unflinching, yet utterly relatable, novel. - Erica Rivera, author of INSATIABLE: A YOUNG

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:13 -0400)

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