READ: Review, There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones (YA Friday)
I want to end my second year of READ.WRITE.PRAY and semi-regular blog posts with a bang and a blessing. Today’s book makes a great choice for both. I’ll add an additional blessing tomorrow.
Disclaimer: I know some of the authors whose books I review. Jenny B. Jones and I were roommates this past summer on a SUSIE Magazine missions trip. She sent this book as a gift to my teenage daughters and urged me to ignore the review invitation. But after all three of us loved the book, I had to disobey. I figure the worst Jen (a high school English teacher) can dish out is a detention. Unless she decides to mail me one of her cats.
And now, for your end-of-the-year pleasure, the review:
I found plenty to love in There You’ll Find Me (Thomas Nelson, 2011) by novelist Jenny B. Jones. But I also loved it for what I didn’t find. Please indulge my explanation.
WHAT I FOUND:
Winsome Characters: I loved even the ones I didn’t like. From bit players (Sister Maria, piano teacher and part-time philosopher) to superstars (Finley Sinclair, exchange student and wounded heart) and Beckett Rush (vampire-portrayer and Hollywood hot topic), all added value to the story and helped keep me reading.
Humor: If Jenny B. Jones writes it, I’ll laugh at it. Awkward-but-true things happen to her characters. Because awkwardness overflows my own life, I can’t help but smile. I bet you will, too.
Compelling Plot: Finley’s on a journey that takes her further than her planned destination of Ireland. After the death of her beloved older brother, Will (read Save the Date for his story), she retraces his steps in search of personal healing. And somewhere in the process, she finds much more.
Layers of Meaning: This book reveals Jones’ growth as a writer. Perhaps no one would label it “literary fiction,” but the bursts of beauty that shone from its pages left me longing not only for my own trip to Ireland, but for more from this gifted author.
WHAT I DIDN’T FIND:
Preaching: Throughout the book, Finley carries on a constant-but-interrupted dialogue with God. The faltering nature of her faith makes it all the more real. And in faith as in writing, real is good.
Lectures: Beckett, Finley, and the other characters have choices to make. Sometimes they choose wisely. Other times, not so much. Believable, real, and right. Period.
Final Answers: At the story’s end, Jones leaves us with more questions than answers. This again displays her skill as a novelist and sets the stage for what I hope will be more of Finley, Beckett, and the God they’re learning to love.
Artificial Sweeteners: Christian YA can come across as pablum-bland or sickly sweet. The challenges addressed in There You’ll Find Me make it anything but. Any honey-like elements contain enough ants to make readers choke (and giggle).
Have some Christmas gift cards sitting around unused? Grab this and all things Jenny B. Jones. Then watch for more—because there, you’ll find some great reading.
Find a local Christian bookseller: http://cba.know-where.com/cba/
(FTC disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from the publisher. I was not required to post a review or a positive response.)
On the trip this summer, I met (and interviewed) some of Jenny’s biggest fans. Have you read any of her previous books? Do you have other favorite YA authors? Leave a comment and let me know!