“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
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!
There are no concerns with this book.
- 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!)
- Dating in this day and age can be really difficult. Become familiar with The Chasity Project which is filled with videos, Q and As, and blog posts about this very topic! Try reading “Going from Friends to More Than Friends” first!
- Read the article, “Challenges of being Catholic in High School”.
- Read the article, “Catholic Social Teaching, on Poverty, and Option for the Poor, and the Common Good.”
- Josie struggles with praying. Read this blog post, “6 Tips for a Better Prayer Life” to help you work on your own prayers!
- Teens, interview your parents. Ask them questions about their lives as teens. What were their hopes and dreams? What did they like to do for fun? What kind of car did they drive? What were they like in school? Maybe conduct the interview at a coffee shop? Or over lunch?
- Spend some time in adoration. If you need pointers, read “A Beginner’s Guide to Adoration”.
- Look for ways to help your community. Both Ryan and Josie are involved in trying to solve the burglaries, but Ryan is also involved with other ministries. Check out ministries at your parish!
- Read our interview with Leslea Wahl here.
- Read Leslea Wahl’s other Catholic young adult fiction, The Perfect Blindside. You can read the review here. Click on the picture for affiliate link.
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.