Book Review: Play For Me by Céline Keating

About Play For Me

Play For Me by Céline Keating is "A novel of midlife crisis with music at its core."

Play For Me centers around Lily who becomes distraught after sending her only child, Colby, off to college. To make her feel better, Colby invites his mom for a visit and during that visit he takes her to a James Taylor concert where up-and-coming folk rocker Blaise Raleigh would be opening. During Blaise's performance, Lily becomes captivated by her guitarist, Jackson Johnson (JJ). At the end of one particular song, the last note that JJ played seemed to shoot like an arrow straight to Lily's heart and in that one split second she would never be the same again. 

Overcome with emotion and a desire she couldn't quite understand, Lily used her job as a videographer with MKT Productions as a way to join Blaise and JJ's tour by offering to make them a professional concert film. During the tour, Lily becomes even more enthralled by the music and Blaise and JJ's world and over time she becomes unsure if she wants to return back to her comfortable life and she can't even fathom leaving JJ behind.

In the end, Lily realizes that her obsession with JJ was because right from the start, from the second that she had connected with his music, that she had inexplicably fallen in love with him. But she had to decide to either work on her marriage with Stephen or to carry the love she had for JJ and the pain it brought her, inside her forever. 

My Thoughts

For me, Play For Me was definitely a page turner and the author is a great storyteller.  The author's love and knowledge for music was really evident. I loved Lily's character and in many ways I could relate to her wholeheartedly. The author really puts into perspective just how quickly life can change, which is both scary and exciting at the same time. I really thought Lily was a very well written and resilient character and I liked following her through her journey. Blaise and JJ were very well written and strong characters as well. Right up until the end, I wasn't quite sure who Lily was going to pick. Either way, she was going to have some amount of heartbreak but I'm happy with the choice that she made and I think this path will bring her the most happiness.  

About the Author

Céline Keating is an award-winning writer living in New York. Her short fiction has been published in many literary magazines, including Appearances, Echoes, Emry’s Journal, Mount Hope, The North Stone Review, Prairie Schooner, and the Santa Clara Review.

Céline’s short story “Home” received the first-place 2014 Hackney Award for Short Fiction. She is the author of two novels, Layla (2011) and Play for Me (2015), which was a finalist in the International Book Awards, the Indie Excellence Awards, and the USA Book Awards. Céline is also the co-editor of On Montauk, A Literary Celebration.
An avid student of classical guitar, Céline is a regular contributor to Her articles and music journalism have also appeared in Acoustic GuitarCoastal LivingGuitar World, and Poets & Writers magazines.

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