I always appreciate clever wordplays, and the title of this book is an excellent one. The Screen refers to a computer or cell phone screen, and Play can refer to either the time spent on it, or the career of Harper Gray – that of a stage actress.
At thirty, Harper fears her chances for a thriving acting career and true love are both fading fast. But when Harper is offered an unexpected role in a Broadway play as understudy to New York's biggest diva, she wonders if everything is about to change.
Hoping to find love in NYC, Harper reluctantly signs up for an online dating site, but the only match Harper is even remotely interested in lives thousands of miles away. An actress who doesn't act, searching for love with someone she's never even seen, Harper longs for God to show her He's still listening.
Through the contemporary text-message world of Internet dating, Harper learns it's possible to care for someone outside her own universe. And as she reaches out through the impersonal world of cyberspace, she becomes more aware than ever of God reaching out to her.
Relatable but Predictable
Harper is a good characterization of many young people today. They get a college education in something they love doing and then graduate. What then? How many of us are actually working in a profession related to our college degree? (I'm a musician – I use my fingers to type – I guess that's related). That's where the character's journey feels very relatable.
I've heard enough "soda fountain" stories about actors to believe that someone could go from being the understudy to be the lead actress in a matter of hours. It is a bit of a stretch to believe that she's enough of a genius to bring something totally new and unexpected to the part, but reading fiction requires a certain suspension of disbelief.
Wanting to find romance, Harper signs up for online dating and meets a couple of possibilities: Luke and James. Online dating is a recent fad and friends of mine who have tried it met with mixed success. I don't personally know anyone who has successfully found a "love match" online, but I've heard it happens.
The most intriguing thing about this book is that it is written by a man (Chris Coppernoll) and he manages to get inside a woman's head really well. I've thought some of the things Harper does, and I've had some of the same conversations she does.
Love at First Sight
The online connection between Harper and Luke feels a bit like the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks relationship in the movie You've Got Mail. They develop a friendship via email correspondence, or in this case, via an online chat. They progress to talking on the phone, and when they meet in person, it's love at first sight.
But love, of course, is not without its challenges. After Harper's Broadway run, she's offered a movie role and goes to Hollywood to film it. Here Coppernoll dives into a discussion of Christian film, which took me out of the story and made me feel like I was reading marketing documents. I've seen too many films described as "the next Passion of the Christ," or "like Sherwood Pictures," that reading it in a book is a jarring note for me.
Thankfully, Coppernoll gets back on track when the course of true doesn't run smoothly (does it ever) and takes Luke and Harper on a life-threatening adventure across the South Pacific.
A Little Too Neat for Me
While it all wraps up neatly and nicely, it's just a little too neat and predictable for my taste. I like messiness and suspense – will they get together? Will they like each other? Will she land the role? Of course If you like a quick read that won't require too much investment on your part, this is for you. If you like things a little complex and messy, you'll find this novel a bit too simplistic.
Courtesy of a national publicist, Angela read a review copy of Screen Play.
About the Author:
Chris Coppernoll has authored six books, including A Beautiful Fall and Providence. A national speaker to singles, Chris is also the founder of Soul2Soul, a syndicated radio program airing on 800 outlets in 20 countries. Chris holds a master's degree from Rockbridge Seminary and resides outside of Nashville, TN, with his wife, author Christa Parrish.