“It is a poverty that a “child must die”, so that you may live as you wish.”–Mother Teresa
Review and Comments
One of this year’s newest Catholic YA novels is difficult to describe. I want to make this a simple review, but there’s too much to think about. It’s beautiful, it’s sad, it’s hopeful, it’s true.
The story begins with Isaac, a young man of faith and conviction, letting go of his inhibitions and drinking too much at a work event. He makes some bad decisions and because of this ends up getting a girl he hardly knows pregnant. This young woman, Rebecca, decides that she is not going to keep the baby and asks for money from Isaac for an abortion. From here the emotions fly on both ends as they fight over the life of this unplanned child. It’s a simple plot, but the emotions behind the actions and decisions of the characters is what really moves the readers.
What is Beautiful
I’m old enough now where I’m able to look at the parents of Isaac and feel their pain and disappointment in the actions of their son. He has done something stupid. He has sinned, and his sin has caused a difficult situation not only for him, but for a girl he hardly knows. He is now connected to this girl whether he wants to be or not.
I felt the tension in the room as Isaac told his father what he had done and I felt for both of them, but the reaction of his father is one that I feel most parents SHOULD hope to have. His mother the next morning is describes has having disappointment in her eyes despite the smile on her face as she makes breakfast for her son.
The beauty here is that Isaac has wonderful parents, but also, this is how I would imagine God would respond to a confession of sin. Disappointment, sadness, and yet love that permeates the frustration. Isaac’s parents react in the image and likeness of God…and THAT is beautiful.
“There are times when He Himself allows terrible sufferings, and then again there are times when He does not let me suffer and removes everything that might afflict my soul. These are His ways, unfathomable and incomprehensible to us. It is for us to submit ourselves completely to His holy will. There are mysteries that the human mind will never fathom here on earth; eternity will reveal them. (1656)” – Saint Faustina
Review and Contents
Three cheers for Leslea Wahl! Her young adult stories for the Catholic audience are fun, adventurous, and pure entertainment so I was so happy when she asked me to review her third book. Where You Lead is probably my favorite of her novels so far.
The story begins with Eve having visions of a boy named Nick. She can clearly see his face and she sees that they are friends, but she has never met this boy before. She realizes that her visions are more than a dream and she begins to pray asking God what it could all mean. Slowly God’s plan begins to unfold for her and her family moves across the country to Washington DC.
“Embrace everyone and everything that helps you become a better version of yourself and you will live a life uncommon.” – Matthew Kelly [The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic]
AR 5.5 [7
Review and Comments
Applewhite family can be described as unique or extraordinary, but those words really
don’t capture the nature of the family well enough. Idiosyncratic is the word that expresses the
dynamics of the Applewhites much better.
A few members can even be described as egocentric. Each person in this extended family has such
a distinctive personality that their individual stories are quite interesting. Their creative passions seem to divide the family,
but when a theatrical crisis occurs, the Applewhites have to pull together and
eventually resolve those problems.
is introduced to the family by twelve year old Edith Wharton, or E.D., as she
prefers to be called. She describes her family as “a spontaneous group of people
who love chaos and crave freedom.” Her
family even decides that the children’s education should be different because
after all they are not like other people.
Their motto is: “Education is an
adventurous quest for the meaning of life, involving an ability to think things
through.” So, they start the Applewhite Creative Academy where “creativity and
individuality are paramount,” and the children develop their own study programs
to accommodate their personal interests.
” We need saints to live in the world, to sanctify the world and to not be afraid of living in the world by their presence in it. We need saints that drink Coca-Cola, that eat hot dogs, that surf the internet and that listen to their iPods. We need saints that love the Eucharist, that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends. We need saints who love the movies, dance, sports, theater. We need saints that are open sociable normal happy companions. we need saints who are in this world and who know how to enjoy the best in this world without being callous or mundane. We need saints.” –Saint Pope John Paul II
Review and Contents
I was so excited when this book first came out. First of all, I am a HUGE fan of the short story genre. It was my favorite thing to read in school and my favorite to teach to my freshmen in high school. Truly great writers can tell such a good story with only a few pages.
It’s also no secret that I’m a fan of Catholic fiction for young readers. Most YA literature is full of vices of the modern world. Sex, drugs, violence….the list goes on and on. It feels so safe to have Catholic writers compile good stories for teens to read.
“The Lord cannot be at work in me if I am only allowing him the time I spend doing pious or prayerful things. I must open the whole of my life to Christ and intentionally make him a vital part of everything I do.”–Father Gary Caster
Review and Comments
I’ll be honest, after having kids I have found prayer difficult. I find little time to myself and am constantly interrupted. I even have trouble making it through a rosary without falling asleep! Then, as an attempt to make up for my distraction/frustration/exhaustion, I try to find a new devotion/method/motivation to kick myself back in gear. Slowly I see myself becoming a Martha and less of a Mary and the downward spiral continues.
Enter Father Gary Caster’s book, Prayer Everywhere (which was obviously sent to me by the Holy Spirit). Through his simple suggestions and wonderfully entertaining anecdotes, I was reminded about the simplicity of prayer which I’d forgotten. Devotions aside, prayer is ultimately about our relationship with Jesus and it need not be complicated. Continue reading A Review of ‘Prayer Everywhere: The Spiritual Life Made Simple→
“I didn’t understand this complicated war, how it mortally devoured the land and left it so full of skeletons.”– Benson Deng, They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky
Interest Level: 6-9
Reading Level: 3-8
Review and Comments
When I was teaching high school, I taught the book They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky. This was my first real introduction to the Lost Boys and the war in Sudan. I’d heard mention of it on the news and in conversation, but had no real personal connection. You see, I live half-way around the world, and at the time it had no real significance to my day-to-day life. But this is the beauty of what books can do. When I read They Poured Fire… I was given a personal, first-hand account of the absolute horrors of the war that occurred and the devastation of the people (mostly young boys) who were left behind. The book gave me insight, connection, and a desire to help, to know more, and to be more aware…more prayerful…for the people suffering every day in other parts of the world. Books can make that happen, they connect history and news to our hearts and help us see the pain and suffering of others. Continue reading A Complicated War: A Review of ‘A Long Walk to Water’→
“Our body is a cenacle, a monstrance: through its crystal the world should see God.”–St. Gianna Molla
Review and Comments:
I’ve always been fascinated by the lives of the saints. Their ability to see God through suffering, their bravery in evangelization, their relationship to Jesus and His mother, and their willingness to face death and persecution for Him are awe=inspiring. As a cradle Catholic, I have read many of their stories and wished to be closer to them and learn more about them. They have been the celebrities I have looked up to, and though my favorite saint has changed with my season of life, I have found that often I feel as though their stories are unrealistic in this day and age. I can’t see myself being like them and I feel that their virtue is unattainable.
It is for this reason I enjoy reading about more modern people who may not be saints (yet) but nevertheless they have lived holy and virtuous lives. A few years ago I read about Immaculee Ilibagiza and her suffering through the Rwandan genocide. Her joy and faith amidst terrible suffering have been a beautiful witness of God’s forgiveness and love for those involved. She became someone I aspired to be for a long time, but her suffering was extreme, and often times I could not fully relate. (You can read more about her here.)
I’m so excited to get to share my interview with Leslea Wahl with you all today! I am a little star struck, I have to admit, whenever I get talk to someone I really admire. Ms. Wahl is one of those people! Not only is she a great young adult author, but she tells her story and shares her faith with such entertainment! Her books are great adventures and mysteries and I, for one, am so glad she has decided to start writing.
We are so blessed to have her books entering the Catholic fiction genre. Check out my interview…I think you will love her as much as I do!
Can you tell us a bit about you and your family?
I live in beautiful Colorado with my husband and three children. Although “children” doesn’t really describe our kids anymore. Our oldest just graduated college, our middle child is currently in college and our “baby” will be a senior in high school. As a family, we love to travel and try new adventures like zip-lining, jet skiing and scuba diving.
What made you decide to start writing and why did you chose to write for a young adult audience?
I’ve always been creative but never thought about writing a novel, especially for teens. But when my older children were preteens and began searching for YA books to read, I was having a really hard time finding books that they wanted to read that also reflected our values. I wondered why no one was writing these kinds of books. Then one day I woke up and the story of my first novel, The Perfect Blindside, just came to me. The characters and scenes kept flooding my mind until I finally started to write them down. I definitely felt God called me to write that book. Since then my passion has been to write Young Adult fiction and to encourage teens in their faith. Continue reading An Interview with Catholic Author, Leslea Wahl→
“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. Continue reading A Beautiful Adventure: A Review of ‘An Unexpected Role’→
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” – St. Catherine of Siena
Ages 12-18 [Pre-teens and Teens]
Review and Comments
This book was written for young pre-teen and teen aged girls, but it is also an excellent resource for mothers. The teen years can be difficult because of peers, society, and just the normal self-discovery of growing up. Kari Kampakis discusses ten truths that a girl should understand so that “when she discovers God’s purpose, she can live her best life possible.”
Each of the ten chapters covers a specific truth such as: popularity, reputation, perseverance, patience, image, and God’s plan. The chapters begin with a very good lesson that sets the tone for further explanation and discussion. Then there are every day examples that illustrate the difficulties girls face. The challenges range from: mean girls, insecurities, choices, peer pressure, positive vs negative attention, to self image. But there is also joy in being a girl and these truths pierce the darkness of those challenging times. Continue reading God’s Plan For You: A Review of ’10 Ultimate Truths Girl’s Should Know’→