Review: Has to Be Love by Jolene Perry.

“I’m okay with making decisions as they come.” – Jolene Perry.Has to be love

I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley to read and review. This book is not yet out, but it is expected to be published September 1st.

This book was a pleasant read. I wasn’t particularly keen on all of the characters, especially Rhodes, though I’m sure that’s hardly surprising. Elias was sweet. Clara’s father was lovely. Of course, there were other characters (and our main), but the book didn’t delve into them too much as they were rather minor characters.

Our narrator, Clara, was rather frustrating to read about because she was so torn between what decisions to make about particular things, but she was a truthful character (to us at least). Reading Clara’s justifications for wanting certain things made me more interested in the story and what would eventually happen and I was pleasantly surprised in the end. I expected it to be your usual case of a new guy in town and the two characters fall in love and they go off to college together blah, blah, blah. This book was surprising in this aspect and therefore different because this didn’t happen which makes it even more enjoyable as it is a little off-putting when you can predict the ending of a book.

Has to Be Love is a good example of a book which doesn’t end in love, but just the main character doing what she wants to do and what is best for her because decisions about who she wants to spend the rest of her life with are not necessary at this instant and what she decides doesn’t have to be permanent. Has to Be Love teaches us to take problems as they come and that it isn’t selfish to do something just because it is best for you, though it is best to be honest about it.

Perry’s writing feels very genuine, I mean, she writes honestly and about real problems teenagers face. Which college do I go to? Can I be far from my family? My friends, my boyfriend/girlfriend? Do I look okay? Everyone is staring at me, do they see my imperfections? Are they talking about me? Will they understand? Do I really want this? Perry acknowledges all these questions and more in her writing demonstrating that she knows and can write about the struggles teenagers face to a bigger or lesser extent so the lovely thing about this book is that it is something that people can relate to and understand by reflecting back to their teenage years or how they’re feeling now.

One of the themes in this book is religion. I am personally not very religious, but that’s not a problem as I can still appreciate books with characters who follow different religions. However, I didn’t understand completely religion from the perspective of some of the characters. Take Clara, for instance, for someone who believes that you shouldn’t have sex before marriage and appears to follow this belief, her actions don’t follow as Clara went surprisingly far with Rhodes. I know she felt guilty afterwards, but the fact that she let it get that far when she had been in similar situations with Elias and with Rhodes in the barn and had been able to stop it going too far shows that she is fully aware of what she is doing. It also doesn’t make much sense when there is the whole “nothing between the knees and shoulders should be touching” because there is a fair amount of touching, but Clara didn’t really care.

Overall, I did like this book. The story was nice with a more unique outcome than many other young adult books which I enjoyed. However, I didn’t find it particularly engaging and couldn’t get attached to any characters, including the main.

I rate this book 3/5.


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