To Love Someone (Book Review)

  • Author: Claire Nance
  • Available Now
  • Series: Lindell High School Series, Book 1
  • Synopsis: 1970s—Dee, a sophomore at Lindell High, is shocked when all-star athlete Slate Garrett begins paying attention to her. But if past experience tells her anything, it’s that he’s using her to get to her older sister, Carol.
  • Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the ebook from the author. Opinions expressed are my own.

Scripture Connection

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Eph. 4:32, KJV

Although I’ve recently cited this verse in a review, this verse (in the KJV) is the novel’s fitting epigraph.

Spiritual Themes

Overall, the Christian elements in the book are gentle. We see Dee praying a few times, usually in the spur of the moment (i.e., she prays she won’t trip over her feet). Dee also attends church, and Slate visits one Sunday. While looking at the stars, the two characters talk about how obvious it is that God created the universe.

In terms of overarching themes, there are a few significant conversations about fear, where Dee is encouraged to look up Bible verses dealing with the topic when she’s afraid. Although the novel doesn’t really delve into the specific verses, Nance provides a list of references at the end of the book. The second main theme is forgiveness, which is conveyed in a beautiful, realistic way, which I believe would resonate with teen readers (and adults, too!).

What I Liked

This book was SUCH a fun read! Not only did I gobble it up— I also dove into when I had just a little bit left of another novel that I was certainly enjoying. I actually discovered a series in a GoodReads review group, with the release of book three. After sampling an excerpt of book one, I was intrigued and asked the author if I could make my way through the series. This was a super light read, but one that I had trouble putting down (and I’m very curious to see what will happen next with Dee).

This is very much a “boy-girl” story, and that remains the focal point, throughout the narrative. With the exception of Dee’s twirling try-out, the story revolves around Dee/Slate interactions, with other characters and events adding to that plot line. Arguably, the Dee/Carol sister relationship is also very important to the storyline, but its lack of resolution, here, keeps it from being the focal point in my mind. I suspect/hope that we will see more development in the sibling relationship (and more growth from Carol), in subsequent books.

For me, the heavy relationship emphasis was a lot of fun, although I know it’s not everyone’s preference. I also really enjoyed the slice of high school life. When I was a child, I liked to read about older characters, and now I still enjoy reading about high schoolers. It was so fun to peer in on Dee’s first relationship, and I was surprised by how much I ended up liking Slate, too!


Refreshingly, although this book revolves around romance, there are no references to sex. I thought that was pretty cool!

Big sister Carol has a very relaxed approach to dating and continues flirting with other boys, in spite of being in a relationship with a committed boyfriend. (Dee does NOT support this behavior).

Dating, also, is treated casually, with Dee’s mom telling her that she needs to get used to it and it will get easier with practice. Kissing also seems to be taken fairly lightly. However, and this is an important nuance, there’s not a ton of kissing in the book, and what we do see is not descriptive.

Respectful Critique

As much as I enjoyed reading about the budding romance, I was a bit confused as to the origin of Slate’s feelings for Dee. I don’t mean that she’s unlikable; it just seems like he meets her and immediately develops strong feelings for her. For this reason, I was suspicious that his behavior was disingenuous. That may have been the author’s intention, since Dee doesn’t know what to make of Slate, either, but the spontaneous affection is never really addressed.

There are a few references to marabou feather headdresses. Upon clarifying with the author, I learned that this is part of a mascot costume, inspired by Native American regalia. The school mascot is a warrior and, although schools continue to use Indigenous people as mascots, this is a practice that I find appalling. The author did state that this was her real school mascot (Dee’s story is loosely autobiographical), that she has Native American heritage (her great-grandfather lived on a reservation as a child), and that she is very proud of this heritage. Even so, I cannot support the use of this mascot.

Recommendation Status

Lately, and due largely to this book, I have been thinking and praying about how I rate books. I typically review for a more homeschool-ish audience, Christian readers who are very careful about what they read and are even vetting books, in advance. At that age, I didn’t look at book reviews, but there were a few times, growing up, where I had to stop reading books due to content. However, there is a bit of material I would be willing to read, and would enjoy reading, without “recommending” it to the audience I currently review toward.

I’ve been reflecting on the fact that there are quite a few books that I add discretionary notes on, but which would still be SO MUCH better reading than most books on the secular market. In the case of To Love Someone, I found this book to be highly entertaining, and I am sure I would have really enjoyed reading, in high school– just as I did now. And, especially today, it would be one of the “cleaner,” more appropriate books available. I’m really looking forward to Book 2!

With that said, while the book was highly entertaining, I’m including a “Reader’s Discretion” note for the treatment of romance/dating and for the mascot. There wasn’t a ton of physicality, but the approach to relationships, in general, is quite casual (and the protagonist is only fifteen!). I did, however, really appreciate the integration of responding to fear, as well as the sweet message of forgiveness.

Published by Stephaniesninthsuitcase

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

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