—Alex Sanchez, author of The God Box and Boyfriends with Girlfriends
When seventeen-year-old high school newspaper editor Jake Powell, fresh from Alabama, lands in New York City to attend Columbia University's prestigious summer journalism program, it's a dream come true. But his father, a fundamentalist Christian minister, smells trouble. And his father is rarely wrong.
In Playing by the Book, Jake navigates new and unfamiliar ways "up North." Starting with his feelings for a handsome Jewish classmate named Sam. What Jake could keep hidden back home is now pushed to the surface in the Big Apple.
Standing by his side are a gorgeous brunette with a Park Avenue attitude and the designer bags to match, a high school friend who has watched Jake grow up and isn't sure she's ready to let him go, and an outrageously flamboyant aunt who's determined to help Jake finds the courage to accept love and avoid the pain that she has experienced.
Provocative and moving, Playing by The Book is a feel-good novel about the struggles and triumphs we encounter in the search for our own truth.
“There's so much to admire in Chris Shirley's debut novel, but the most remarkable thing may be its voice. Jake is both earnest and skeptical, curious and guarded, and he tells his story with an endearing humility that–somehow–avoids the sarcasm that has become the norm. Playing by the Book reminds us of how rewarding it can be to climb into someone else's head.”
—Patrick Ryan, author of Send Me and Saints of Augustine
S. Chris Shirley is an award-winning writer/director and President of the Board of Lambda Literary Foundation. He graduated from Auburn University where he served as photo editor of The Auburn Plainsman. He later received a graduate degree from Columbia University and studied filmmaking at New York University. He was born and raised in Greenville, Alabama and now resides in Manhattan. Playing by the Book is his first novel.