Published by Thomas Nelson Inc on October 3, 2011
Genres: General, Religious, Young Adult
Source: Borrowed: A student brought this book to me and told me to read it!
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Grief brought Finley to Ireland. Love will lead her home. Finley Sinclair is not your typical eighteen-year-old. She’s witty, tough, and driven. With an upcoming interview at the Manhattan music conservatory, Finley needs to compose her audition piece. But her creativity disappeared with the death of her older brother, Will. She decides to study abroad in Ireland so she can follow Will’s travel journal. It’s the place he felt closest to God, and she’s hopeful being there will help her make peace over losing him. So she agrees to an exchange program and boards the plane. Beckett Rush, teen heartthrob and Hollywood bad boy, is flying to Ireland to finish filming his latest vampire movie. On the flight, he meets Finley. She’s the one girl who seems immune to his charm. Undeterred, Beckett convinces her to be his assistant in exchange for his help as a tour guide. Once in Ireland, Finley starts to break down. The loss of her brother and the pressure of school, her audition, and whatever it is that is happening between her and Beckett, leads her to a new and dangerous vice. When is God going to show up for her in this emerald paradise? Then she experiences something that radically changes her perspective on life. Could it be God convincing her that everything she’s been looking for has been with her all along?
One of my piano students really wanted me to give this book a try. It’s one of her favorites, but I was hesitant. Not because it’s YA—because it’s Christian fiction, a genre I normally cannot stand (and she knows that, which is exactly why she suggested I read this).
Surprisingly, I really liked this! It didn’t feel affected, it wasn’t preachy, it wasn’t trite, it wasn’t full of platitudes and Christianese, and it didn’t promote a particular “flavor” of Christianity—all reasons why I tend to avoid Christian fiction. The writing was really quite nice; it’s easy to get into the story and just enjoy it. The characters are fleshed out really well (although I wish we’d gotten to know Finley’s host sister Erin more). Best of all, Finley wasn’t a goody two-shoes—she could be pretty hot-headed, and she wasn’t perfect. The faith-related aspects of the story felt natural, and like any good coming of age story, there was a good bit of growth.
Teens may enjoy the blossoming relationship between Finley and Beckett Rush the most, but my favorite storyline was the relationship between Finley and her school-assigned adopted grandmother Mrs. Sweeney (who reminded me of Mrs. Snow from Pollyanna, except Mrs. Sweeney actually is dying). Their interactions were usually awkward and often snarky, but eventually became the most beautiful parts of the book for me.
So this afternoon when I see my student, I have to tell her, “You were right. This was a really good read.”