Author: Lindsay Schuster
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary / Christian Fiction
This deeply relational novel offers a fitting close to a trilogy about four friends who have been through rough patches in their lives from high school on. Now facing their last year in college, the young women enter a new phase in their lives, closing some chapters while opening new ones.
The range of the story is impressive, offering romance and weddings alongside grief, loss, pain, and trauma. The author looks at hard situations in an honest, forthright way, exploring topics like abortion and pregnancies through a lens of faith while showing that people are far from perfect—addiction, adultery, alcohol abuse, and the difficulties of living in an imperfect world abound in this story, yet the author manages to keep a positive outlook and shows the good in life, despite these dark and difficult subjects.
The book nicely continues the characterization the author established throughout this series, offering enough information for new readers to orient themselves in the world of the story while satisfying fans with details about a variety of plot threads, including old boyfriends and the characters’ family members. Even though there are four main characters, the author manages to balance the plots, giving each character ample page time and allowing the various hopes, worries, and dilemmas to surface without feeling rushed.
The cast of characters does seem quick to argue, though, to where it might’ve been nice to see more of them not being as quick with words or insults when angry, but given how close the friends are and how many of the characters are family, it makes sense that they’d share similar patterns of behavior where relationships are concerned.
The story’s details tend to be emotional rather than physical, to where we learn more about characters’ feelings than what their various living spaces look like, though there is sufficient detail to let readers picture the locations and get a feel for how well each character is managing financially. The narration is nicely realistic, with both men and women struggling with the various challenges they face, to where the couples must both bear the difficulties of their decisions together, rather than just the four women.
The book could use some further editing polish, as the wrong word occasionally showed up, and some of the details surrounding one of the character’s pregnancies felt oddly paced, as though the reality of being pregnant didn’t quite fit with the plot. For example, she didn’t seem able to discover the gender of the baby until long after what is now typical, yet she seemed visibly pregnant to strangers, to where, as soon as she became pregnant, she was “very pregnant” if it suited the story.
A fulfilling emotional journey, this story will appeal to readers who love an honest look about life, faith, and relationships. It offers drama, tension, and plenty to worry about, rewarding readers with an intimate look at the joys and sorrows of four young women trying to successfully navigate adult life without making the daily challenges look easy or simplistic. Beautifully true to the characters, the story offers a rich and satisfying conclusion to a very heartfelt trilogy.
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