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The Believing Game

Review

The Believing Game

Greer Cannon has always felt the need to trust herself above everyone else --- coming from a family that doesn’t seem to give two hoots about her (other than to notice her bad behavior), Greer is an island unto herself. And that’s how she intends to keep it, especially when she’s shipped off to the McCracken Hill rehab school with other privileged misfits like herself. That is, at least, until she meets Addison, a former druggie and alcoholic who has seen the light and is giving his all to recovering and repairing his damaged life.

"The argument that the students at McCracken Hill are all just looking for a family to fix their fractured social existences is strong. But is that desire for closeness really enough to stand up to such a large external threat?"

Addison is not like anyone Greer has ever met. Insanely attractive, endlessly caring, sensitive and intelligent, Addison only has eyes for Greer, too. Well, almost. His one distraction is Joshua, his hyper-involved mentor and inspiration. The passion Addison demonstrates for Greer is unmatched, but his attention to Joshua is definitely out of the ordinary. But though Joshua seems strange, Greer is desperate for his approval and willing to make some pretty big concessions to ensure that Addison continues to return her affections.

At first, Greer can tolerate Joshua’s control over her boyfriend. She even starts to accept his guidance, and under his tutelage (and the influence of McCracken Hill rehab), feels herself open to others and begin to trust. But as Greer’s trust in the new friends she has made with Addison grows, so too does her skepticism of Joshua. Why is he spending so much time with the students without any real affiliation with McCracken Hill? And why is he so keen to know their secrets?

As Greer and her friends become more involved with Joshua, his goals start to look more nefarious, until Greer finally admits that she does not, has not, and will not buy what Joshua’s selling. But now she is stuck in a quandary: how does she get Addison to see through Joshua’s spell without losing him completely? And is it already too late to reverse the damage that Joshua has inflicted upon them all?

Despite the natural curiosity evoked by cults, author Eireann Corrigan’s approach is confusing. For most of the book, it seems that Greer is doing her best to believe Joshua for Addison’s sake but is really keeping her own opinion to herself. While certainly she experiences moments where Joshua’s ideas make an impression on her, for the most part it is clear that she is not as bewitched as most of the other characters seem to be. This makes the whole axis upon which the book spins (that Greer and her friends are slowly descending into cult mentality) a bit hard to believe. It also makes it really difficult to understand why Greer and her companions accept as many of Joshua’s statements and intrusions as they do. Only Hannah and Addison seem completely willing to accept Joshua as the spiritual leader he claims to be. If that is the case, why do the others put up with so much baloney? The argument that the students at McCracken Hill are all just looking for a family to fix their fractured social existences is strong. But is that desire for closeness really enough to stand up to such a large external threat?

Reviewed by Rebecca Kilberg on December 11, 2012

The Believing Game
by Eireann Corrigan

  • Publication Date: December 1, 2012
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press
  • ISBN-10: 0545299837
  • ISBN-13: 9780545299831