Title: Don’t Hate the Player
Author: Katie Ashley
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
For Noah Sullivan being the best friend to a douchebag and player like Jake Nelson has never been easy. It’s been a rocky road since kindergarten when Jake duct taped Noah to his chair before recess. With just six weeks to high school graduation, Jake accidentally blows his drunken ass up on his grandfather’s tractor, and Noah finds himself immersed not only in a whirlwind of grief, but on a quest to find a mystery girl from Jake’s past.
While cleaning out Jake’s room, Noah and Jake’s dad make a startling discovery. Instead of the obligatory porn collection or pot stash, they find a ring, but not just any ring. Its half a carat of commitment in a platinum setting-proving even man whores have taste. After Jake’s mom pleads with Noah to find the girl who meant so much to Jake, Noah begins a modern day Grail quest to track the girl down.
Since Jake was a notorious player with a legendary collection of trophy panties, Noah finds himself in over his head. There are the usual suspects like Avery, the Ice Princess Jake dated for appearances, or Presley, the school mattress Jake dated for convenience. But the trail begins to point to the most unlikely of suspects: Maddie, the Valedictorian and choir girl who was trying to help the unmotivated jock graduate–the girl who also has surprisingly caught Noah’s eye and meddled with his heart.
Hanging out with Maddie shows Noah a different side of Jake–one that was deeply human and surprisingly douche-free. And the more he tries to solve the mystery of the ring and of Jake, the more Noah starts to discover about himself and of love.
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It is never easy to write a book that captures the essence of every single emotion. To talk about love and friendship and everything that takes place in between is never something that can be done without wrenching the way you feel about them. I have always admired authors who can manage to do this because it takes a lot out of them to dig in and generate stories that resonate long after you have finished the book. This is what Katie Ashley does best!
The story begins kinda slow that it lets you see how things got to where they did. But once that is shaken off, the book somersaults into various kinds of emotions and that is where the narrative is the strongest. The story speaks a lot of language…love, loss, forgiveness, grief, friendship, family, fears and taking chances…
What is even more interesting is how Katie manages to stick her story inside all of these and make each and every character stand out. The writing is dynamic, with a lot happening on almost every page that made me spent almost overnight reading…savor every word page by page and moment by moment.
“As I stood there trying desperately to steady myself, a realization washed over me. This time I
didn’t bother fighting the bile rising in my throat. Instead, I heaved the entire contents of the
cafeteria’s shitty lunch onto the emerald grass. Over and over again, I threw up as if I were trying
to purge myself of the dark feelings overtaking me.
Jake is dead.
My best friend is dead.”
This gripping story will literally make you cry in places but makes up for it with its comical parts.
“I want you to find the girl who this ring belongs to. Even though Jake didn’t get the chance to give
it to her, I want her to have it.”
I stopped myself from blurting, “Are you insane, Mrs. Nelson? I know you loved your little boy, but
he was a major panty chasing manwhore! I’d have better luck finding all the girls he deflowered or
potentially gave an STD to than the one girl he might actually have had feelings for!”
I also loved how the relationship among the characters especially Noah and his Mom was strongly conveyed in the story. The challenges of being a single parent, the changes that was about to happen in their lives and how they were able to cope with it gave this story added depth and interesting facet.
“Noah, I know that things are about to change, and our lives will never be the same. For almost
eighteen years it’s been just you and me.”
“Yeah, it has.”
When Mom took my hand in hers, I braced myself. She was about to lay some serious shit on me.
“I just want you to know that I’ve thanked God every day for giving me you. Even though you
weren’t planned and the situation was hard, I wouldn’t trade any of it for a second. You’ve been
the greatest accomplishment of my life.”
I thought the romance between Noah and Maddie was realistically and movingly handled. It was simple yet captivating. You can feel the chill, the pain, the awe as Noah finally admits to Maddie about the secret and his mission to find the girl who owns the ring, and how he was able to finally confess his true feelings for her. And it’s these set of emotions that keep the drama going and made my heart pulsating.
“There’s something else I need to say—something I should have said to you yesterday an even
weeks before that.” Gently, I traced my thumb over her cheekbone. “Madelyn Elizabeth Parker, I
am truly, madly, and deeply in love with you.”
I’ve been in love with you since the day I saw you after Jake died. You appeared to me like an
angel, and in a way, you have been my angel. You are so beautiful sometimes that it stuns me, and
it leaves me speechless. When you smile that smile that spreads across your face and brings out
your dimples, it makes my heart melt.” I leaned in closer to where my breath brushed against her
cheek. “You’ve been my beacon of light in my storm of grief, and I don’t know if I could live without
Katie doesn’t only write books. She tells stories that impart valuable life lessons, bring us hope, lift our spirits, and make us smile.
A must read for all. I totally recommend this one wholeheartedly.
Katie Ashley is the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best-Selling author of The Proposition. She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her two very spoiled dogs and one outnumbered cat. She has a slight obsession with Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Supernatural, Designing Women, and Scooby-Doo.
She spent 11 1/2 years educating the Youth of America aka teaching MS and HS English until she left to write full time in December 2012.
She also writes Young Adult fiction under the name Krista Ashe.