By: Cora Carmack
All Played Out is the third book in the Rusk University Series and like the others you will not be disappointed. Cora Carmack manages to pack in all the right story lines and make you feel all the right emotions in this novel. It is a story that echoes the sentiments of so many new adults as they make their journey to adulthood. So, even though a swoon-worthy love story dominates the subject matter, All Played Out successfully identifies the struggles of many new adults and makes the content not too heavy and extremely relatable.
“All I’m saying is college is a time to experiment. If you were trying to solve some equation or test a theory, you wouldn’t only look at it one way. You would evaluate all possibilities, explore different methods, study every variable. So maybe you should look at your time here as an opportunity to explore.”
The story focuses on Antonella (Nell) De Luca and Mateo Torres, two college students who meet through mutual friends. With a spiral book and a to-do list that she needs to get through before she graduates, Nell is on her way to shake up her very rigid and routine like life, by expanding her horizons and getting more involved in “the college experience”. Whilst Mateo is very much in the thick of the college experience; a jock, on the football team and flirting his way shamelessly through life, Mateo and Nell are opposite in every way. He is loud, assertive and confident, whilst Nell is quiet and prefers to observe and remain anonymous. And like everything opposite…they attract.
“What’s your name?”
“Well Just Nell. I’m Mateo”.
“I’m supposed to stay away from you”
With the objective of crossing everything off her “Normal College Things” list, unintentionally Nell confides in Mateo and he makes it his personal mission to assist, enjoy and experience all of Nell’s firsts. As they band together, their easy friendship turns into an undeniable chemistry that shocks them both. Denying that their connection goes beyond their physical attraction, both Mateo and Nell continue to lie to themselves.
“Besides …it’s not as if I’m trying to…I don’t know, keep him. This isn’t about that. It’s about experience and discovery.
I don’t expect to have a piece of his future. I’m just going to enjoy the piece of him I have now.”
As they continue to cross many things off on Nell’s list. Both Mateo and Nell struggle with their own list of personal insecurities. When old wounds are opened, it seems that there is much more baggage hanging around their ‘relationship’, then they anticipated. And like anything unwanted it jeopardises the happiness that they find within one other
“Fighting with Nell is like…it’s like drowning. And each word that pushed us further apart, each step she took, was another gulp of water into my lungs. And just like someone stuck underwater… I knew I should stop. I knew that each gulp was killing me, but I just couldn’t. “
As all the items on Nell’s list have very much been taken care of, the question remains as to what this means for Nell and Mateo? Will they still be able to hang around one another? Is there room for a relationship? How about their insecurities? Will they be able to overcome the pressure, expectation and lack of communication or despite their uncertainties, will they realise that they really are good for one another? Or will it all be too much, pushing them apart… too far to fix?
Ways to prove you love Nell De Luca
Tell her. Every day. Three times a day. As many times as it takes
Be worthy of her. Not by playing football or pretending to be something you’re not. By being the man she makes you feel like you are. Strong and smart and kind and so damn lucky to have her.