- Author: Bethany Turner
- Publisher: Thomas Nelson
- On-Sale Date: June 15th
- Synopsis: After a chance encounter with a struggling actor in a coffee shop leads to plans for a ten-year reunion rendezvous, wannabe screenwriter Olivia Ross works to complete her masterpiece before the decade deadline.
- Recommendation: Reader’s Discretion; See Content Notes
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, courtesy of NetGalley and Thomas Nelson.
This was a quick read for me (I had trouble putting it down), but one that left me with mixed feelings, as I didn’t understand why it was labeled as Christian fiction.
Things I liked
- The Structure
- I really enjoyed the book’s unconventional structure. Based on the synopsis, I thought the novel would be a standard romance story, so the unexpected structure was a pleasant surprise.
- The structure also contributed to the novel’s pacing. I liked how each chapter introduced lots of new information, so the book didn’t have the normal “slow parts.”
- The Plot
- The plot really pulled me in, to the extent that I felt an emotional connection to the characters. There were definitely moment when I wanted to punch Olivia or became angry with Liam, and it’s been a while since a book elicited that kind of response from me.
- Along a similar line, I noticed other readers saying that this book would make a great movie, and I agree. I liked that it was slightly cleaner than your typical PG-13 rom-com (though it didn’t quite feel PG) but was not predictable like a Hallmark story. In fact, there were several fun plot twists.
- The Humor
- The book was both fun and funny, and I found myself laughing out loud.
- The Setting
- The book took place from the time I was in 2nd grade until I graduated from high school. Because the main character is an adult, there were some references that I couldn’t fully understand, but there were also quite a few that I enjoyed.
As I read, I kept thinking that the spiritual themes were coming up a little later on. Given the premise of the novel and the occasional nods to “coincidence,” I was thinking there would be, at the least, discussion about God’s planning. But there wasn’t. In fact, there was no content even alluding to faith or relationship with God.
While some Christian books present subtle, allegorical meaning and others offer nods to religious practices like church attendance (which is not my favorite “Christian book” identifier), I really saw no reason to call this a Christian book. It was comparatively “clean” (please see Content notes), but it was not what I expected.
In contrast, there were some “worldly” elements. Most of these things will seem pretty “nitpicky.” However, I am reviewing not only as a Christian reviewer, but also in the context that this book is considered a Christian book. For me, these elements felt out of place in a Christian book.
- Olivia is very impressed that her best friend, Fiona, has celebrities’ phone numbers in their phone and thinks “a friend like that deserved better.” While I think the line is meant to be comedic, I feel that it subtly endorses celebrity worship. There’s also a reference to the “sanctity” of a singer.
- Olivia and Fi have a really sweet lifelong friendship, which I really enjoyed reading. I didn’t like the line that described Fiona as the love of her life. It was just like but it weirded me out!
- At least one use of the Lord’s name in vain (“Geez”).
- One of the main characters is referred to as “Sexy Irish Guy.”
- *See Spoiler at bottom of review
I think most people would comfortably describe this as a “clean” read. There were, however, quite a few passionate kissing scenes. The descriptions were enough to make me feel uncomfortable, although this definitely wasn’t the worst I’ve seen. Compared to mainstream novels, I’m sure this is a very clean read. Because this is a Christian novel, I would have liked to see a more innocent romance.
While undoubtedly an entertaining read, this isn’t a book I would characterize as Christian. Therefore, it’s not something I would endorse as “here’s a good, pure [as in purity] work of fiction.” I don’t read much adult fiction, but this is probably a good alternative to mainstream choices.
There is also a scene of cheating, which the MC immediately regrets.