By Eric Devine
Release Date: October 28, 2014Greg Dunsmore, a.k.a. Dun the Ton, is focused on one thing: making a documentary that will guarantee his admission into the film school of his choice. Every day, Greg films his intense weight-loss focused workouts as well as the nonstop bullying that comes from his classmates. But when he captures footage of violent, extreme hazing by his high school’s championship-winning lacrosse team in the presence of his principal, Greg’s field of view is in for a readjustment.
Greg knows there is a story to be told, but it is not clear exactly what. And his attempts to find out the truth only create more obstacles, not to mention physical harm upon himself. Yet if Greg wants to make his exposé his ticket out of town rather than a veritable death sentence, he will have to learn to play the game and find a team to help him.
Combine the underbelly of Friday Night Lights with the unflinching honesty of Walter Dean Myers, and you will find yourself with Eric Devine’s novel of debatable truths, consequences, and realities.
Review: Going into this one, I knew it was going to be a serious read. With an overweight protagonist who is constantly bullied and uncovers some serious hazing done by the most popular guys in school, you know there is going to be drama. I went in with a serious mindset, but it was still hard to read how horrible high schoolers can be…
Nicknamed Dun the Ton, Greg Dunsmore wants nothing more than to get into film school and leave his town. In order to do so, he knows he has to come up with a fantastic film to get him a scholarship. Greg decides to document his own journey of losing weight, as well as the constant bullying he is the victim of because of his weight. What Greg doesn't expect, though, is to uncover serious and violent hazing being performed by the high school's beloved lacrosse team. Greg knows he has to do something about it, but he wants to use this secret as his ticket to film school. As more and more secrets are uncovered, though, Greg realizes just how dangerous the situation really is.
Maybe I'm just being naive, but it seemed like everything that happened to Greg was just too much. I was in high school not too long ago and don't remember kids being THAT cruel, especially in the way that this book portrays them. Pretty much everyone in the school makes fun of Greg's weight, to his face, and they literally beat him up on more than one occasion with no repercussions. There are no authority figures except for the principal and superintendent, both of whom are no help at all. There should be a good 20 or so other adults in the school to at least attempt to intervene or see the mental and blatantly obvious physical abuse Greg goes through, but he's literally helpless. I understand that high schoolers can be very insensitive and bully those who are seen as "different" than them, but I think that the author was too heavy handed in the incidences that occurred to the point where it wasn't believable that all of that could happen to one person.
Other than that, though, this book was seriously emotional and heartbreaking. I hate in when people are bullied and the bullies have no idea how cruel they are being when they think it's all fun and games and how miserable they are making those who they bully. Weight is a seriously sensitive issue and even little offhanded comments people make that aren't trying to be mean really affect Greg and his self perception. Also, the way his family handled his choice to lose weight was emotional and I liked how the author realistically created tension with Greg's mom and dad and Greg's mom's need to feed him to show her love. The whole film aspect of this book was really great and I really enjoyed how Greg used film as a form of escape. I love film too and could connect with him on that level and liked how he was able to form a connection with Ella on that topic as well.
Overall, Press Play is quite the emotional read that deals with obesity, hazing, and extreme bullying. While some situations were very drastic and too much in my opinion, I still felt connected to Greg and wanted him to succeed in not just losing weight, but finally accepting himself as a person.