Book Review: Out of Play by Joy Norstrom

31821835Title: Out of Play
Author: Joy Norstrom
Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing
Pub Date: October 27, 2016
Format: Kindle eBook
Pages: 212
Source: NetGalley
Genre(s): General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
Rating: ★★★★
Goodreads || Buy on Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Gillian Campbell is out of patience. Her husband is choosing his hobby over her. And the hobby in question? Live Action Role-Play, or ‘larp’. Larp involves dressing up as a character (be it medieval knight, banshee or centaur) and participating in imaginary battles for entire weekends.

Gillian is not impressed. She seeks professional advice and is surprised when her therapist encourages her to try larp. “Who knows? It may make you smile. It may make you laugh. It may even improve your sex life. How terrible could it be?”

The advice seems super sketch to Gillian, but she decides to don a costume and give it a go. If larp doesn’t work a marital miracle, Gillian will be able to walk away knowing she tried absolutely everything before giving up.

Will going on her own role-play adventure heal Gillian’s marriage, or will the game shed light on everything that is wrong?

My review:

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way alters my opinion of the work.

I feel like I should preface this review by letting you know that I’m only a few years older than Gillian’s goddaughter. Gillian’s best friend, Jas, is essentially my mother’s age. So I shouldn’t have enjoyed this book, right? Wrong.

This book was a pleasant surprise. If I’m being honest, I usually avoid stories that revolve around marriage, separation, and the rebellious children that are the result of those two things. It was bad enough witnessing my own parents separate three times. I have no desire to remind myself of that awful decade. So for all intents and purposes, I should have ignored this book… but the Larp drew me in, and the Larp held me close.

I had already read two books yesterday, so I thought I would read a few chapters of Out of Play before bed and then finish the rest this morning. But I was wrong, again. I kept reading and reading until the next thing I knew, there were tears in my eyes, a stupid smile on my face, and the clock read far after midnight. So, yeah, you could say that I really enjoyed this book. I loved it.

The synopsis tells you what you need to know. Gillian seeks out a therapist with only one purpose, really: to have someone else reinforce her idea that Ralph is in the wrong, and that his Larping is ruining their marriage. Gill’s tendency to “talk at” Ralph and his tendency to fall into silence really rubbed me the wrong way. It’s clear that he gave up trying to argue with her a long time ago. He probably felt like he was walking on eggshells around her, like nothing he could say or do was right, and that made me really sad. They were both resigned from this relationship. When the therapist suggested that Gillian try out Larping, I was on board. Not just because we could get to read about it (which honestly was the best part) but also because it would get Gillian to actively participate in the marriage again, and hopefully result in Ralph doing the same. Things don’t always go as planned, of course, but what needed to happen… happened.

Even though this book is all about the Larp, it also talks about love, grief, and loss. Despite the accompanying tears, I did finish this book with a smile on my face. This is a testament to Norstrom’s writing. It was witty and entertaining, and I found myself chuckling at all the same things Gillian laughed at. It was written very well. I honestly wish the book were longer.

All I can say is, sign me up! I’m looking forward to reading more from Joy Norstrom.

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