Ellie Lansing has a picture-perfect life with a close-knit family and the perfect boyfriend. But her world is suddenly knocked off center when her drool-worthy boyfriend cheats, and her always-has-it-together mother is diagnosed with cancer. Ellie doesn’t get it. She always does the right thing—doesn’t God owe her a happy life? Through her heartache, Ellie learns that sometimes what seems like the end is really just the beginning and that what God has for us is always worth the wait.My Review:
Ellie is starting her senior year in high school prepared for perfection. Everything has been going so well for her and it would appear senior year would follow along that pattern. But we quickly see that not all is as it appears, and when Ellie starts to question what's going on with her boyfriend, and then her mother is diagnosed with cancer, we start to see Ellie's world unravel. She must not only face the truth of her boyfriend and her mother, but the deeper parts of herself that she has never had to explore because of the idealized life she has been planning for (and her family has been planning for her).
What I really enjoyed about this novel was that the author looked at several aspects of Ellie's life. This isn't just a so-your-boyfriend-cheated-on-you book. This isn't just a so-your-mom-has-cancer book. This is the story of a girl who must deal with heartache, disappointment, and utter confusion, and question those she's believed in, herself, and her faith. She must reevaluate her life, her beliefs, her goals. She makes mistakes along the way and must face those consequences. While the reader will be screaming at her to see things clearly, dear Ellie must travel this road to come to her own convictions, find herself, and believe that she's "worth the wait." Despite Ellie's blunders (or maybe because of them), the journey she takes is quite admirable and wonderfully written, drawing the reader completely into Ellie's life, welcoming her as a friend, and cheering for her along the way, making her a wonderful example.
Though this takes place amongst students attending a Christian private high school, they do not always act in a very Christian-like fashion. Having attended public school myself, I have no personal experience in a private school, but I can imagine these teens struggling with all the things that most teens struggle with, though with a different perspective. Outside of Ellie, we meet her cheating boyfriend, who handled things so very poorly, and it was just too bad. There's the "bad girl" who you've just got to hope there's something deeper going on there to make her the way she is. But then you have Ellie's best friend who is loyal and loving and just the friend you'd want. And then there's Josh, who proves you don't have to follow the crowd. There's also an honest look at loving parents who still make mistakes despite good intentions. This nice variety of secondary characters really adds to the story's depths.
Overall, this was a wonderful debut from Laura Jackson, depicting realistic struggles for teens, and honest questions about purpose and faith, with a touching ending. There's a beautiful message not only about abstinence, but much more. While this is a Christian-based book, I think any teen wanting to hold onto their convictions about waiting until marriage and not giving into peer pressure would enjoy this, regardless of faith. There is talk of hook-ups, references to sex, and partying with underage drinking, so I'd recommend this for a more mature teen.
4 1/2 STARS