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This month I’m reviewing books that all have to do with overcoming trauma. While this theme was planned out months ago, it seems a rather fitting one for the strange time we are suddenly living in. While dealing with the coronavirus might not be a trauma for all of us, it is for some people. And we all are having to make sacrifices at this time. Some of you might be worried about family finances, food shortages, catching the virus, or someone you love getting sick. Young people might even be devastated by school suddenly being canceled—no interactions with friends and no spring activities. I’ve always found that one of the best ways to put our worries into perspective is to focus on the good things in our lives. One way to do this is by caring about others and their problems. All the stories this month are about teens who are facing devastating problems. They all come to the realization that focusing on faith can get them through their ordeals. And that is what we all need to do during this uncertain time—focus on our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Before we begin…
In case you are new to my blog, besides writing YA novels, I love reviewing them as well. Every month I post about 3 YA books that I’ve read each month in a new genre. I also send out quarterly posts marked UPDATES regarding news about my own work.
But for those of you who have kids, or grandkids, or you yourself like teen books (like me!), each month, I’ll introduce some of my favorite Christian and Catholic YA books.
I’ve decided to provide more reviews because there are a few things I’ve learned since I had my first book published:
1 – So many of the teen books published by the big publishing companies contain messages that don’t match the values of many families.
2 – There are a lot of fantastic, clean, faith-based books out there – books that are entertaining yet wholesome and reflect Christian values.
3 – These types of books can be difficult to find. So, I’d like to introduce you to a few new adventures.
Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles
I was blown away by this story. Beneath Wandering Stars was one of those books that I couldn’t put down. It’s a powerful story about dealing with a traumatic experience and discovering who you are.
Seventeen-year-old Gabriella Santiago is an Army brat living in Germany where her father is stationed. She is counting the days until her high school graduation so she can get back to the States and far away from the military. But when her soldier brother, Lucas, is critically wounded, her priorities change in an instant. When Gabi finds out that Lucas had dreamed of walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, Gabi is determined to honor Lucas’ wishes as he fights for his life.
There are so many fantastic elements to this story. I was intrigued by the lifestyle of the Army family. It was interesting to see this transient life from the perspective of a soldier’s teen daughter. Also, experiencing the pilgrimage trek across Spain with the characters was fascinating. Gabriella’s journey is packed with wise words, deep thoughts, and powerful life lessons. I absolutely loved the voice of Gabi. The witty spunk was superb. Some of the best writing I’ve come across is YA novels. It was such a fantastic book that I immediately picked up the sequel.
Leap of Faith by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Leap of Faith a middle-grade story of self-discovery. Abby is a middle school student at a public school. After an act of desperation, where she lashes out at a fellow student when no one believes her side of an ongoing situation, her parents send her to a private Catholic school.
My heart ached for this character. Abby’s parents are both career-oriented and have little time for their daughter. Overwhelmed by hurt and anger with her agnostic parents, Abby comes up with a fantastic way to get back at them. To become Catholic. Her parents are not happy with their daughter’s desire to join the church. While starting the journey for the wrong reasons, Abby begins to feel peace at church and slowly learns some wonderful lessons about faith, family, friendship, and forgiveness.
The Lost Son by Tamra Torero and Preston Norton
This book was a complete surprise. I happened to stumble across this novel while searching for Christian Christmas stories. Even though this story is set on a Christmas tree farm during the holiday season, it is much more than a Christmas story.
The Lost Son is about a teen boy who kills another teen while drinking and driving. This story has a heart-breaking backdrop but is about hope, faith, love, and forgiveness. All these elements are woven into an enjoyable story that is not as heavy and emotional as I expected for such a difficult subject matter.
In all honesty, a few passages probably should have had a little more emotion and drama. And sometimes it seemed a touch too easy for the three main characters to move past the trauma they experienced. However, I think these aspects are also the reason I enjoyed the book so much. I’ve never been one who likes heavy, emotional drama. Books that pull at the heartstrings have always too much for me and a bit of a turn-off. I prefer my drama to be interspersed with humor and romance. I think this approach might also appeal to teens more effectively than a heavily dramatic novel would. Stories have a wonderful way of teaching, but if they are too preachy or emotionally draining, some readers could be turned off and miss the important messages within the story.
All these books can be found on Amazon. I’ve set links – just click on the highlighted titles. For those who don’t use Amazon you can also check Barnes and Noble online or www.indiebound.org where you can search for books and the local bookstores that might carry them or order them directly from the website. You can also ask your local bookstore or library to order the books for you.
Next month I’ll be reviewing three more Christian/Catholic teen novels. But if you’d like more reviews before then you can always check out my recommendation section on my website: YA Recommendations.
If you’ve come across this post on Facebook and would like to get my monthly reviews sent directly to your inbox, you can sign up on my website – www.LesleaWahl.com.
Until next month – Happy Reading!