From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—Seventeen-year-old Olivia wins a prestigious award that includes the opportunity to attend a writing workshop at the local Catholic university taught by a successful novelist whom she idolizes. Olivia is thrilled: her dreams of being a writer are becoming a reality. While basking in Father Mark's attention, she becomes uneasy as his actions become more pervasive and possessive. Caught by her awe of him both as an author and a priest, she questions her own discomfort as the emails, texts, and requests for her time and attention leave her confused, secretive, and defensive. Hiding this predicament from her family and friends is further complicated by her attraction to a fellow student. Throughout Olivia's story, Freitas alludes to actual events in 1966 when Catholic priest Thomas Merton fell in love with a student nurse assigned to his care. Freitas has skillfully woven Merton's reflections of his historically documented "gorgeous game" into her fictitious exploration of the effect of stalking, as told through a series of Olivia's writing exercises. A nun helps her realize that she can't and shouldn't have to face this problem alone. With the support of close friends and Sister June, Olivia is able to confront the situation. This novel will resonate with teens who struggle with what appear to be impossible situations and come to terms with the desire to receive attention however unwanted it may be. The message that stalking is not the fault of the victim is especially important.—Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
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Seventeen-year-old Olivia is a writer so good she is chosen by popular priest and best-selling author Father Mark to be the recipient of the Emerging Writers High School Fiction prize. In addition to $10,000 and being published, the accolade means she will also have a spot in his university summer fiction seminar. Olivia is elated, and when Father Mark shows real interest in her writing, she feels chosen in all sorts of ways. But having Father Mark’s attention is a mixed blessing. Meetings, calls, and text messages begin to take over her life. Olivia doesn’t know how to extricate herself or even if she should. Perhaps because there are relatively few scenes between the two, Father Mark sometimes seems more like a caricature than a character. However, Freitas, author of the successful debut The Possibilities of Sainthood (2009), deftly catches the claustrophobia, uncertainty, and self-doubt that come with an obsessive relationship. The interwoven comparisons to Thomas Merton’s affair with a young woman add heft to this fast, chilling read. Grades 9-12. --Ilene Cooper