A Beautiful Adventure: A Review of ‘An Unexpected Role’

“The most beautiful and stirring adventure that can happen to you is the personal meeting with Jesus, who is the only one who gives meaning to our lives.”–St. John Paul II

Reading Level

Grades 7-12

Review and Comments

Sixteen-year old-Josie has left her family to spend the summer with her Aunt Lily after some embarrassment and bullying at her high school.  Since, in her mind, her mother has caused the bullying, Josie is happy to get away.

Josie loves the small island where her aunt lives and she is able to quickly make friends with people while there including an incredibly handsome and exotic guy  named Niko. Unfortunately, someone from her high school is also there, Ryan McNaulty.  She is afraid he is there to continue the bullying begun by his friends at school, and is shocked to find that he wants to be her friend.

The story continues with a string of burglaries that are happening around the island.  Josie agrees to work with Ryan to try to figure out who is committing the crimes, but she puts in little effort as she is infatuated with Niko and annoyed by Ryan.  Big things happen, however,  that change her heart, help her focus on solving the crimes, and aid in a tremendous growth in maturity for Josie.

This story is a wonderful and very appropriate coming of age story for teens today.  In the beginning, Josie is concerned only for herself, focused on how others treat her and how her mother has ruined her.  By the end, however, she realizes that high school is just a small piece of the big picture, that everyone is not how they seem, and God has a plan for all of us.

This is the second book I’ve reviewed from Leslea Wahl and once again I am pleased by the story.  I think it’s difficult to tell a good “teen” story and incorporate our faith without coming across as preachy and/or out of touch with young adults.  The story was exciting and the romance was innocent.  The remarks about faith were subtle, yet that is EXACTLY what is missing from most YA fiction.

I absolutely recommend this book to Catholic young adults.  I know that as a young teenage girl, I would’ve fallen in love with this story, and I know others will, too!  I, for one, am a fan of Leslea Wahl and am excited to see what she will write next!

Possible Concerns

There are no concerns with this book.

For Discussion

  • Niko and his cousins have grown up with very little.  Their jobs help support their families at home.  How can WE help people in situations like Niko?  As Christians, what does God ask us to do?
  • In dating, it is often thought that the male should pursue the female.  How does this work in the relationships Josie is involved with?  Does Niko pursue Josie or does she him?  Does Ryan pursue Josie or she him?
  • Josie has quite bitter feelings about her mother, but she finds that her mother has made great sacrifice for to live her vocation as mother.  How does Josie feel about this revelation?  How have your parents made sacrifices for you?
  • How does Josie find her relationship with God again?  Which people close to her help her?  How can you help someone in their relationship with God?
  • How are the Mullinses guilty of more than just greed?  In what ways have they harmed other people?
  • How is Josie’s high school experience typical of many high schoolers’ experiences?  Who are you at school?  Are you Josie or the bullies?  How can you bring the light of Christ to others?
  • (There are other great discussion questions in the back of the book, too!)

Catholic Resources

General Teaching Resources

  • Study plot.  Find the different parts of the plot in the story.
  • Define theme.  What is the theme of this story?
  • Pretend you are Josie sitting on the beach.  Write a descriptive paragraph about what you see.
  • Analyze Niko, Josie, or Ryan.  Does this author use direct or indirect characterization.