I love to read almost anything: magazines, newspapers, cereal boxes, and books of all kinds, of course. Poor David. It made him crazy when we were packing dishes with newspaper and he'd look over to see me distracted over yet another article in the months-old newspaper.
It's a bit of a problem.
I have a special place in my heart for Young Adult literature. I loved YA literature before I was a YA, while I was a YA, and now that my children are YAs. (I haven't resolved the dilemma of parenting children who are at the age I was when I was pretty sure I knew more than the adults around me...let's just say that I am almost ready to claim adulthood at nearly 40, but it's taken me 20 years to accept this "new" stage in my life.)
I also have a special place in my heart for Christine Mehring. Christine and I have been friends for almost 15 years. She is a brave, wise, funny, loyal, thoughtful, and cool woman with a fascinating life story. And she's always been one of my favorite writers, even if only in emails. I'm not going to share any of these emails with you. This is your loss, because she's kept me afloat many a day, made me laugh, and described the world in ways I think but can never write.
I was thrilled to get an advance copy of Christine's new book, Bitter Blessings. It combines two things I love: YA fiction and Christine. Bitter Blessings is due for release near the beginning of July, but one of you lucky readers can get an advance copy.
Despite my early affinity for LDS YA writing (Jack Weyland, how I loved you...) I will admit that my later return to writing with a Mormon background has left me a little jaded. I began the book not knowing that Christine's subject matter would involve LDS characters and situations. And while some of these situations are typical for LDS teen fiction, Bitter Blessings read much truer to me than I would expect from the genre.
The book blurb is: "Megan has the perfect life, but when her mother dies in an accident, everything spins out of control. With the rest of her family falling apart, Megan must confront her past to uncover the truths that will keep everyone together. Thought-provoking and heartfelt, this book shows that even in times of trial, you can often find blessings."
The characters in Bitter Blessings are well-fleshed out. Megan is a multi-faceted teen girl with a big heart and some misconceptions. After the death of her mother, her sister's life spins out of control. While trying to help save her sister from her foolish choices, Megan finds herself with her own difficult choices to make. While she discovers truths about her sister, she also finds unexpected truths about herself, the rest of her family and her best friend, Adam.
The plot has a little romance, a little intrigue, and a lot of life lessons. One of the beautiful things about the book is that the troubles are not easily resolved, and some are not resolved at all. I'm finding more and more that real life doesn't often hand us our problems fixed, tied up in neat little packages, with happy resolutions. Sometimes we face really really sucky decisions. Sometimes we can't make everyone happy. Megan finds this to be the unfortunate case, as well. Happy endings don't mean that everything ends perfectly. Happy endings come when we make the best out of a hard situation and choose to live happily. I loved this quote from the book:
I’ve come to realize that our Father in Heaven wants to bless us—He wants to bless us beyond what we can imagine. Sometimes we’re too comfortable where we are, and we dig in our heels, and He has to pull us kicking and screaming to the blessing He wants us to have, and it’s only after we’re there that we can look back and see His hand, see that He was there all along helping and guiding even when it felt like the world was falling down around us.I'm thrilled to have been able to review Bitter Blessings. I am glad to recommend it to you as a well-written YA book with enough suspense to keep the plot moving, relatable characters, and real life messiness. If you want a copy, comment! We'll choose one of you at random and announce the winner in a couple of days.