Title: Hero’s Purpose
Author: D.A. Irsik
Genre: Christian / Coming of Age
Hero’s Purpose by D. A. Irsik is the third in the Hero’s Series and follows the journey of Sela, a freshman in high school, and her best friends, Emily and Zach. They are Christians who are starting a school group called Teens for a New Tomorrow (TNT), whose goals are to help the environment and to raise awareness on social issues, such as bullying. Their well-meaning plans are challenged, however, by an older student and sudden health problems involving Sela’s father, and her faith is tested.
This book is likely enjoyed best by a younger audience, middle grade or young adult. The protagonist, Sela, is fourteen, and readers around her age are likely to identify with her experiences, her interactions with her peers, and her thought processes. Because its themes are heavily Christian, involving prayer, frequent talk of God, and even directly speaking with angels, Sela’s story is most suitable for a Christian audience. Having a strong focus on a target audience is commendable, but it may limit the book’s overall reach.
Someone who is struggling with their faith or who is outside of the Christian faith may find this hard to relate to. However, the author does show Sela’s struggle with her faith, including her doubts and fears in the midst of her father’s questionable health and challenges her school group, TNT, faces. That Irsik takes the time to create a believable character is admirable, but perhaps Sela’s faith would stand stronger if she were a regular human who doesn’t have angels at her disposal to call on whenever she needs them, but then, that might not be as interesting of a story, either.
The characters often refer to events that happened in earlier stories, so reading the earlier works in the series seems to be important, but not enough detail is given for the reader to understand the references if read as a standalone book. However, on its own, the book can be read and enjoyed without reading more.
At 35,000 words, this book is a novella and not a novel. Because its target audience is younger, its length is fine, but an additional five to ten thousand words could make a good story a great one. The pacing through most of the story works well, and the author explores themes that teenagers face, such as dating, identity, and bullying. However, the climax misses the mark because it doesn’t dive deeper into the emotions the protagonist and antagonist must have been feeling, something the reader would be interested to know more about. While Irsik writes realistic, relatable dialogue throughout the majority of the book, expanding on the climax’s dialogue could pave the way for the reader to connect with Sela and her nemesis.
Hero’s Purpose is a coming-of-age Christian story that will resonate with middle-grade faith-based readers. The author creates a believable protagonist whose struggles are relatable to anyone who has gone through an experience questioning God’s will. D.A. Irsik’s novella grapples with the sometimes challenging issues young people face and how they work to overcome them.
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