Review: Playing Nice

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**5 Stars**

I took a bit of a break from book reviewing due to some health issues and am slowly working my way back to reading and reviewing regularly. When I was approved for J.P. Delaney’s Playing Nice, I was super excited to dive in and see what Delaney has cooked up for his readers. I have reviewed his last three books and loved them all; here are the links to my reviews of his last three books: Review: The Perfect Wife, Review: Believe Me, and Review: The Girl Before.

Playing Nice is a bit of a departure from his last three books. I don’t mean this in a negative way – it’s just a different type of book that looks deeply at what happens when a child is switched at birth and ends up with the “wrong” biological family. This book spends a good deal of time developing two characters – the parents (Pete and Maddie) of a child, Theo, who they discover is not their biological child. Pete and Maddie’s world is shattered when Miles and Lucy, Theo’s biological parents, show up unannounced in their lives and reveal the devastating truth that their children were switched at birth. I was super interested in how this complex, unusual situation would unravel and how each of the characters would respond to it.

How did Theo get switched at birth? Who is responsible? Nurses? The hospital? Or is it something more sinister, such as one of the parents? 

I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot, but let’s just say that Miles and Lucy have ulterior motives in sharing this shocking information with Pete and Maddie. At first, it seems as though Miles and Lucy are good-natured folks who want the hospital responsible for the switch to be held accountable. There are vast class differences between the two families; Miles and Lucy are wealthy, while Pete and Maddie are struggling to get by. Both couples seem to have fractured relationships that also complicate matters.

What did I think of this book? I did miss some of the shocking twists and turns of Delaney’s last 3 books, but that doesn’t mean this book wasn’t enjoyable. As I said before, this is a book that is focused on character development more than pulling the rug under readers. Delaney has a real talent for making his characters come to life and feel relatable, no matter what questionable deeds they’ve committed. There are some surprising twists in this book, but they are simply not as dramatic in Delaney’s previous works. If you enjoy well-crafted characters and a skillfully paced plot, this book is for you!

Thank you to the author, J.P. Delaney, the publisher, Random House Publishing, and NetGalley for an advanced reviewer copy of Playing Nice!