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.
Holly’s 3.5 Star Review
First of all, please make sure you take time to read the Dedication, it was so moving and sad and I think it sets the right emotion for the book perfectly, because in chapter one, Noah’s best friend of 12 years dies in a horrific accident.
Noah is a 17 year old student who, after his Father not being present in his life for the last 10 years, is very close with his Mother. I loved the relationship he shared with his Mom. She was always there for him and really seemed to ‘get’ him. His Granddaddy, who he was equally close to, died 2 years ago and like most teenage boys, he thought he was expected to be a ‘man’ and not show emotion. So even at the age of 15, he didn’t grieve for his Grandaddys passing and now in the present day he also has the loss of his childhood friend to deal with. I really felt for Noah and suffered through the hard times with him.
Then, when searching through Jake’s room, Noah finds a ring and is left with not only trying to find out who the ring was meant for, but also wondering if he really knew his ‘player’ of a friend at all. When secrets start unfolding about Jake’s life, Noah is left feeling hurt and confused. But through his darkness there is light, in the form of Maddie, the Pastors Daughter.
I loved Maddie. Yes, she was the goody-two-shoes, virginal, Pastors Daughter with the good grades, but she was also strong and not afraid to stand up for herself. She didn’t mind being different to other girls her age though I think a part of her wanted to prove not only to others, but to herself, that if she wanted to, she could in fact be like her peers. She has a strong character and a need to take care of people (in true church girl style), and she herself has had a lot to deal with, with her family so I think she needs someone to take care of her.
Noah and Maddies relationship flows beautifully and you see it getting stronger the more time they spend together but Noah is still hiding from her the fact that Jake bought a ring and he thinks it’s for her. He feels guilty for keeping secrets from her and guilty because he feels like he’s moving in on his best friends girl but he’s scared that when Maddie finds out, she will choose Jake’s love over his own. All the while Noah is trying to learn that it’s ok to let his pain and emotions show through and it doesn’t make him less of a man because he chose music over sport.
I love how the story all comes together at the end, and even though Jake’s feelings are revealed in a heartfelt, heartbreaking letter to Maddie, I feel as though maybe a Prologue in Jake’s POV would have been great to really get to grips with how he was feeling about everything going on in his life and in his mind before he died. All in all, Don’t Hate The Player is a great story of love, loss, heartbreak and acceptance. It was a very emotional read and had me wiping away tears more than once. If your a fan of Katie Ashley ‘s other books I suggest you give this a go too.