Friday, June 1, 2018

Porch Swing Girl | Book Review

What would it be like to lose your mother quickly, unexpectedly, and tragically to cancer? Then, what if your dad left on top of that? These are the issues that Olive faces as she stays the summer with her grandma and younger sister in Hawaii—except, Olive isn’t planning on staying in Hawaii. She’s determined to earn money for a ticket to Boston to join her dad and prevent him from throwing out all their memories of her mom.

Olive was a very believable, hurting girl. Yet, she also took the believable journey to healing as time progressed. She is surrounded by people that she really hasn’t asked for—Gramma, sister Macie, and new friends Jazz and Brander. Each of these characters play an important role in Olive’s life, and help her to step out of her misery and selfishness.

The Christian thread in this book was more of a contemporary perspective with youth groups, Jesus freaks, Christian rock, and being on close terms (or not) with God. There was a strong emphasis on seeking God, praying, and of being in church. A few verses were quoted, but I realized after I finished, that there didn’t really seem to be an emphasis on God’s Word in personal life. That is probably just me being nit-picky, but it is a danger that I’ve seen personally in the modern church movement, so maybe that is why it stood out to me as missing here.

With this being a teen book, I wasn’t expecting much romance. But Olive is sixteen. Given the contemporary nature of the book, as the story progressed, it didn’t really surprise me when she begins to notice a guy and have feelings toward him. Apart from my personal conviction that sixteen is really young to begin serious dating, the romance was handled fairly well and was clean. The guy was clearly trying to follow God before pursuing a girl, and he was determined to only date a girl who was serious about God. The only kisses were those on the cheek and forehead. But there was an underlying thread of emotional longing and attention toward the guy.

Olive did have a lot of attitude issues. They were all very understandable, and for the most part, they were resolved in this book. Her disrespect toward her dad was not resolved, but I understand there is another book in the series, so this could be something the author is planning on developing with Olive’s future life.

Would I hand this to a teen? If they are your typical, public school-going teen or if they’re your modern, less conservative Christian, then yes. There are no drugs or explicit moral issues displayed. However, if it’s a conservative teen, I would hesitate to do so. Had I read this when I was a teen, it probably would have fed my romantic fantasies of boyfriends and probably would have made me discontent in some areas. There also seemed to be very loose standards for dressing (shorts, tank-tops, off-the-shoulders), which some conservatives would have an issue with.

In looking at the book as a whole (the author in me is speaking), this is one of the best books I’ve read by a teen author. There is a definite goal, climax, purpose, conflict, and resolution. It is a very satisfying read.

*I received this book from the author and happily provided my honest review*

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