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The Obvious Game

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  122 ratings  ·  43 reviews
THE OBVIOUS GAME is a 2016 Library Journal Self-e Selection!

“Everyone trusted me back then. Good old, dependable Diana. Which is why most people didn’t notice at first.”

"Your shirt is yellow."
"Your eyes are blue."
"You have to stop running away from your problems."
"You're too skinny."

Fifteen-year-old Diana Keller accidentally begins teaching The Obvious Game to new kid Jess
Paperback, 312 pages
Published February 7th 2013 by Inkspell Publishing (first published January 30th 2013)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
The target market for The Obvious Game is teen-aged girls, and the book hits the target with a bulls eye. It blends just the right amount of romance and typical teen angst with hard facts about anything-but-typical teen eating disorders. The author's gritty descriptions of what drives her protagonist to control every morsel that goes into (and comes out of) her mouth balanced against her wicked sense of humor had me laughing through tears more than once.

The character of Diana, her struggles with
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Honestly I thought it was going to be just another YA novel, but I was so wrong! The Obvious Game is intense! It is beautifully written with believable characters - a story of despair, hope, pain and courage. I felt the author has a knack of knowing how much to explore each emotion, when to write and express a little more and when to hold back. I would say it was quite an emotional writing, almost on the verge of being dark and scary but also bringing in hope and light.

Diana seemed like the usu
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
I really liked this book, and that is saying something for somebody who typically doesn't enjoy YA novels. The story rang very true, if not in the plot, the very much in the characters, the dialogue, and especially the internal monologues of Diana, the teenaged protagonist. Certain scenes, particularly those between Diana and her mother, felt so real they were painful. Rita Arens really has something to be proud of in The Obvious Game.
Kelly Hashway
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Powerful read. Full review to come.
Kelli Oliver George
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was very excited to read this book and I was not disappointed. THE OBVIOUS GAME is the story of a teenage girl living in a small-town in Iowa. Diana's world is falling apart as her mother battles cancer and just as Diana takes part in that delicate social dance known as "high school". Her best friend (who is not always the nicest person in the first place) is losing her own footing and her other friend is too wrapped up in her new boyfriend to take notice of the downward spiral that Diana is i ...more
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, own-it
The minute I saw this book on Goodreads I needed to read it. Ever since the 7th grade when I read a book about a girl who was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and struggled through a hospitalization regiment in order to save her life, I've been fascinated by this desease. And when I say fascinated, I don't mean in a glamorous way but in a way that made me want to research everything I could possibly find out on this illness.

The book I read in the 7th grade Even If It Kills Me, focused on the cha
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended, ya, 2013, teen
I know this book was written for teens, and it's perfect for them, but it's also perfect for adult survivors of the teen years! Though the book is set in the early nineties, its story is timeless.

Diana is a young girl facing the anguish of her mother's illness and her own eating disorder. It was handled with brilliant sensitivity. I found myself not only relating to Diana on such a deep and emotional level, but also not seeing the early symptoms of an eating disorder.

This is where it hit home fo
Lily at Bookluvrs Haven
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Review originally featured on Bookluvrs Haven

A hard to put down, coming of age story about a young girl that struggles with her self image and self esteem. Feeling as if most of her life is spinning out of control, Diana latches on to the one thing that she CAN control - eating.

This was an insightful story into the mind and emotions of a young girl coping with some difficult circumstances. Her warped perception of her body was saddening. Her anger and need to push everyone away during her most
Neysa (Papier Revue)
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-owned

"I was terrified of never feeling happy again. I was scared of losing Jesse. I was scared of killing myself. I didn’t know if I could stop. I didn’t know if I could not stop. I didn’t, actually, know anything about myself. "

I didn't actually know what to expect when I first read the blurb of The Obvious Game, so when I knew that it was mainly about anorexia, I was a bit pessimistic. I never read any anorexia-related novel befor
Brigid Keely
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, fiction, ya, yay-girls
First of all, I was given the chance to read an advance copy of this book for review purposes. I have not been compensated in any way (other than being given a PDF copy of this book) and my opinion on the book are entirely my own.

Second, this book contains depictions and discussion of disordered eating/anorexia and cancer and may be triggering for some people.

15 year old Diana Keller is having a really hard time. Her mom is sick, incredibly sick, with cancer and that's a lot to deal with. Her fr

To read an excerpt of this novel and enter for a chance to win one of 7 copies of the book, check out my tour stop here! (:

I once read a guest post by an author that said that teenagers weren't very complex, so why make your characters in YA novels complex? This might just be me, since I'm a teenager, but I completely disagree with that statement. Everyone, including teenagers, might seem simple on the outside, but might be fighting a battle inside. And everyone has a story to tell. In Th
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-sarc
I have read a few novels that center around eating disorders, but this story is told a bit differently. What makes The Obvious Game stand out to me is that the main character, Diana, does not start out with this problem. She turns to self induced hunger as an aspect of her life that she can control. As her life seems to get more unwieldy and emotionally wracking, the sources of which are out of her domain, she starts reaching for something - a goal - that she can have complete control over. For ...more
Kerry Ann Morgan
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Complete review at Vinobaby's Voice

I don't read a ton of YA. Yes, I've read today's YA blockbusters. I vaguely remember reading Judy Blume's Tiger Eyes back in about fifth grade, some Sweet Valley High and Girls of Canby Hall before I made the switch to hard core "adult" books. Back then, books for teens didn't include premarital sex, eating disorders, or underage drinking (as this one does). At least none that I recall. I could have been looking in the wrong place. I hated everything about bein
Jennifer Rayment
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Good Stuff

This one was a real challenge for me to read as it is way too close and personal. It's funny how I can speak so openly about wanting to kill myself while suffering with post partum depression but the thought about even discussing this makes me break out in sweats. This girl was almost me and it hurt to read about those same emotions I had and all the stupid shit I used to do to my body. I was very lucky that it never got this far, but I won't lie, it was very close. Even to this d
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I came across a review for The Obvious Game where the blogger (whose name or blog I cannot remember) highlighted a quote from the book. "Fat is not a feeling." That was enough to let me know that I needed to read The Obvious Game. Having just finished it, I must say that this is a book that makes me want to go all-confessional and share my own story rather than offer an official review.

No I am not a fifteen year old like Diana, and no my mother does not have cancer. But when I was fifteen I stru
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Diana has a lot on her mind. Her friend is acting weird. Her mom is sick. She is unhappy with the way she looks. She wants things to change for the better but she is frustrated that nothing seems to be under control. Deep down, Diana yearns to do something that makes her feel she can be in control and when she finally sets her goal and forces herself to attain what she wants, she thinks she is finally doing something right, but is she really making her life better with her relentless goal settin ...more
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Capturing the angst of teen years

Rita Arens has not only written a credible, terse novel in THE OBVIOUS GAME, but she has also offered some explanations (if not downright counseling) for teens and parents facing exceptional challenges. Not that simply making it through the teenage years is a bit of a struggle, but couple that complex time when teens are facing burgeoning sexuality, the temptation of drugs, sociopathic behavior and the new hurdle of gaining financial support to make the decision
I'd So Rather Be Reading {Nat}
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2013
I love the premise of The Obvious Game. The game itself---pointing out obvious things as a game---was an interesting concept to me, and the reason why I accepted The Obvious Game for review. I had no idea that this book would affect me the way it did. I absolutely loved it! I was expecting your typical YA contemporary fiction, maybe with some high-school drama, so I was unprepared to read such an emotional, well-written story.

Diana grew up overweight and has the resultant body- and self-image is
Megan  Nicole
Dec 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
This review first appeared on Books i View.

The Obvious Game is the story of a young girl living whose world is turned upside down when her mother is diagnosed with cancer. Even though she has a great support system through family and friends the pressure of life gets to her and she starts to develop an eating disorder.

I liked how the author decided to approach this delicate subject. You could tell that she knew what she was talking about especially through the teenage viewpoint of things. Diana’
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
My rating: 4/5 stars
Remember to stop by my blog!

May contain some spoilers
I know the synopsis doesn't really reveal anything, just gives a little hint. So, if you didn't already guess, Diana has an eating disorder. Well, there's only some small signs in the beginning but after all the problems keep piling up (her mother has cancer, her best friend is a total b*tch, things get tough with boyfriend..), things get worse. Really, her eating is all she has control over in the chaos called "life".

Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
If I had one word to describe this book it would be “painful.” The writing is so good that you feel the pain of Diana.

This is a book that I thought about long after I finished reading. It was so emotionally draining for me because one of my own friends suffered from an eating disorder while we were growing up. Diana’s character is so incredibly relatable and such a true depiction of teenage angst that it should be read by all! I was so completely emotionally invested in her story and the story
Tamara Epps
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
When Diana accidentally starts teaching the new kid, Jesse, how to play the obvious game, she doesn’t realise that their relationship will strengthen until the secrets that she is so determined to keep hidden prevent her from realising she is not the only one hiding.

Rita Arens is not afraid to confront big topics and issues that are prevalent in today’s society. At the beginning of The Obvious Game we learn that Diana’s mother is recovering from breast cancer. It is easy to not notice all the ot
Molly (Conan the Librarian) Crumbley
Between her mother’s life-threatening illness, first love, and unraveling friendships, Diana has had enough. She wants control, and she’ll take it however she can.

It starts out harmlessly enough. Lose a few pounds here and there. Nothing wrong with wanting to be healthy, right? After all, the wrestling coach is encouraging her boyfriend to do the same thing so he can keep his standing on the team. Quickly, though, a few pounds become a lot of pounds. She barely eats. She exercises obsessively. S
S.F. Benson
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Rita Arens’ debut novel, "The Obvious Game", is a well-written poignant coming of age tale. I was so moved after this book I couldn't read anything else that day.

Arens crafted a memorable story about one teen’s overwhelming struggle. Diana should have been the average high school sophomore dealing with popularity issues, getting good grades and having crushes. Instead, she was challenged with a mom battling cancer, a boy magnet best friend and a few extra pounds on her body.

"The Obvious Game" ma
Angela Amman
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
I couldn't wait to read The Obvious Game. As a mother who's always fought against body image issues, I feel compelled to learn more about girls and their self esteem and how someone goes from wondering why the rules are different for them to redefining the rules all together.

Like so many girls, Diana goes to high school each day feeling a little prickly and wraps herself in her own inadequacies. Her mother is undergoing cancer treatment, her best friend is exerting her pretty-girl power and Dian
Kelly Hager
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm wasn't going to discuss Diana's problem because the book synopsis doesn't but most of the blurbs on the back of the book do reveal it. Diana has an eating disorder (and I wouldn't consider that a spoiler because very early on, the reader starts to get a hint that her relationship with food is complicated at best. But anorexia isn't not her only problem. Her mom also has cancer, and Diana is doing everything she can think of to keep from dealing with that.

And while it would be easy to dismiss
Erin Margolin
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reading The Obvious Game reminded me of the way I felt when I read Judy Blume books as a young girl; I could never put them down, they were all so perfectly relatable, and I saw pieces of myself in the main characters. Even reading this at age 36, I was immediately transported back to those awkward teen years, feelings of vulnerability, wanting to belong, but also wanting to be myself (whomever that was). Diana is dealing with a lot: a mom who has cancer, losing her virginity to her boyfriend, a ...more
Dec 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: interested in learning about eating disorders
Shelves: 2013
This book took me by surprise. From starting on a completely different note to the path it finally took, it made for a roller-coaster ride.

The book is an amalgamation of so many themes that I can almost do a thematic analysis of it (ah, my psychologist cum researcher self peeking through).

Although the main focus of the book is on eating disorder and what goes inside the mind of the afflicted, the book is so much more than that. There're a lot of difficult lives involved, trauma and sickness.

Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Obvious Game is a beautiful rendering of the incredible highs—the warmth of your first love’s breath--and devastating lows—everyone knows your “secret”—of high school in a small town. From the first few pages, I was quickly absorbed in the world of Diana and her friends and family. All the characters were realistic, especially the flirty Amanda, Diana’s oldest friend. It can be very hard to break old habits even when you know they are destructive, and I found myself cheering and weeping for ...more
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book deals with the issues of a family dealing with cancer. But more importantly, it's about a teenager trying to cope with the imperfections in her body and her family, and she tries get away from the problems, but there is no escaping the inevitable. Rita Arens took on a challenge when she chose to write about this subject, but she executed it well with few imperfections. Eating disorders are a big deal, and I think that more people should be aware of the signs and try and help anyone suf ...more
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Bargain Basement: Giveaway, young adult novel THE OBVIOUS GAME 1 5 Feb 19, 2015 08:55AM  

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My next novel, The Birthright of Parker Cleaves , will be published in August 2019 by InkSpell Publishing. Stay tuned!

My first young adult novel is The Obvious Game from InkSpell Publishing. The Obvious Game is available in paperback and ebook (all formats) online at Kobo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, InkSpell Publishing and Indiebound and is a 2016 Library Journal Self-e Selection.

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