Greg Dunsmore wants to escape the small town whose main source of pride and revenue is the high school's sports team that has made his life hell. Now in his junior year, Greg focuses on putting together a portfolio that will ensure he gets accepted to film school. While documenting his weight loss story he inadvertently captures the violent hazing and abuse the lacrosse team endures during practice but what shocks Greg even more is everyone who's involved.
Press Play is a young adult story that delves into hazing and bullying with a dark intensity and unflinching honesty. It presents an interesting social commentary on high school life, family dynamics and society. I liked that it had a deeper message about honesty, integrity, courage and change.
The narration is engaging with a cadence and distinct voice that makes the main character feel genuine and relatable. The characterization was great and I enjoyed reading the interactions between the characters as their relationships strengthened. I liked that each of the characters had their own issues and that they supported one another as they worked through them.
The story explored the different variations of bullying and their effects. It was interesting that it also showed how these issues aren't isolated to just high school but can also bleed into adulthood. The story presented a variety of moral dilemmas and I liked that the main character struggled with them before choosing a course of action.
I enjoyed reading about the interests the main character had. It helped offset the intensity and was fun to read. I liked that technology factored into the story while also showcasing the culture and effort put into filmmaking. The main character's weight loss story felt authentic and honest. I was surprised at the depth it held and how it further strengthened the impact of the story.
[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Running Press Kids, through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]