By Melanie Abrams

Grove Press, Black Cat, Paperback, 9780802170477, 284pp.

Publication Date: April 2008


Melanie Abrams’s debut novel is a provocative tale about love, betrayal, and how one young woman’s unconventional sexual reawakening uncovers the most guarded parts of her past.

When Josie, an anthropology grad student, is unexpectedly offered a job as the nanny for six-year-old Tyler, she innocently accepts. Though Josie doesn’t necessarily need the job, there’s something about Tyler’s single mom, Mary--her beauty, her confidence, her resemblance to Josie’s mother--that draws Josie in. While her quick intimacy with Mary soothes Josie’s estrangement from her own parents, it also breeds betrayal when Josie falls for Mary’s crush, Devesh. An Indian surgeon ten years Josie’s senior, Devesh is a strong and enigmatic man who pulls Josie into a dizzying world of sexual domination and submission that speaks to her deeply hidden desires. It is a world of games that fast becomes serious, forcing Josie to confront the darkest moments of her past as she desperately struggles with her family history, her own violent impulses, and her love for Devesh.

Rapturous, illuminating, and emotionally charged, Playing is an unflinching look at the irrevocable consequences of giving in to our most secret passions, and the freedom and imprisonment that comes with true self-knowledge.