I must say that I am thoroughly disappointed with this book. I was more than a little nervous to start this novel because it is a Christian novel and I am….well let’s just say I’m not. Though the Christian elements were always present, it’s not what bothered me the most. There were several things that bothered me much more and that it what I will discuss here.
I found that the author didn’t seem to really know how to write a believable teen voice. This novel follows 4 families on their journey to get over the death of a loved one and varies other issues that arise and while the adults sounded very real, the teens sounded fake to me. The all felt very forced. Leigh, if we assume is a believable character, is very shallow and selfish, claiming to love Jake with all her heart and yet she dumps him just because she thinks he is going to leave her. After this, she completely avoids him. She has to leave town for a few months and blatantly refuses to respond to his calls or texts or emails. As soon as she arrives at her grandparents, were she is to stay, she falls head over heels for another guy. She does claim to feel minimal guilt about Jake, but has no issues blazing on in this new relationship. In real time, she is only out of town for a little over a week before she comes back to help out a neighbor, but in that time she has managed to get over Jake and “fall in love” (read lust) with Dylan. Poor Jake was the only teen character that seemed believable to me. He’s struggling with depression and doubting his faith because bad things just keep happening to him. First his best friend gets pregnant and dies in childbirth, then his mom gets breast cancer, and finally Leigh dumps him just because he has been a bit distant lately. For all you wondering, by the end of this novel, he’s back to being confident about his faith, but I enjoyed seeing him struggle with it.
I also felt like this novel was much too short to follow so many characters. It isn’t even 200 hundred pages yet it attempts to follow 4 different families (each with 2 or more perspectives) through a death of a friend, a house fire, and a cancer diagnosis. Plus, the story doesn’t even end. It just does stops. Nothing is resolved beyond a surgery removing all of the cancerous cells in the cancer victim. Leigh and Jake still haven’t talked, the house that burned isn’t rebuilt, and so many other issues haven’t really been touched on. I hate books that stop rather than end, but I hate it more when that is the end of the story. I realize life doesn’t tie everything up in a neat little bow for you, but some things do get resolved. It looks like there is a sequel planned, but as I could barely tolerate this novel, I won’t be reading the next.
Now for the one religious element that I can’t ignore. This novel almost felt like an attack to those people who don’t follow the Christian faith. In this entire novel, there are 4 characters that are not Christian. One is a teen boy who has lost his faith after the death of his sister. He cuts himself and enjoy watching graphic videos online showing animal cruelty. Two are a married couple with a son who just recently found Christ. They are both abusive towards the son. The father is also a drunk who apparently killed 2 people in a drunk driving car wreck. The fourth person is a doctor who shows a considerable urge to convert after praying with a family. The message this sends me is that everyone who isn’t a Christian with no intent to convert is evil and I don’t like that message. Oh and there was one questionable character. Dylan makes no comments either way. My thoughts on Dylan are this, he’s a bit creepy. He’s related to the 2 people who were killed in the drunk driving accident and the ending felt very much like a set up to see him go a bit psycho. Now that is pure conjecture, but that was the impression I got from him.
All in all, I disliked this book intensely.
****Thank you to Lynn Dove for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review****