By the time Greer Cannon is shipped off to rehab at McCracken Hill, her family views her as beyond redemption. Busted for shoplifting, she’s also juggling disordered appetites for both food and sex. Living under constant supervision is hell until she meets Addison, whose magnetic personality opens new worlds to Greer. Addison’s Narcotics Anonymous sponsor Joshua comes into their social circle, and that's when things go frighteningly haywire.
The Believing Game is notably believable, and that makes it very scary. Joshua uses his race (he's African-American) and age to subdue a group of deeply damaged kids into not questioning his behavior; to do so would be racist by implication. The only black kid in their group immediately calls him on his nonsense and is ostracized for it. Instead of making Joshua’s evil more evident, this forces a closer bond between the remaining kids until events spiral out of control.
Eireann Corrigan brings this story to life with an eye for detail and a precise ear for language. When Addison’s temper flares, Greer observes his voice “had a serrated edge.” And Greer is immensely likable. Despite a messed-up childhood, her narration is filled with quick wit and biting observations. Joshua’s promotion of an awkward girl to a position of power sets Greer off: “She could not have served as the ambassador to a ham sandwich, let alone help inspire a world revolution.”
The Believing Game is a knockout horror story, but it should also inspire discussion about race, faith, family and the cult of personality.