Synopsis: eighteen-year-old Finley Sinclair has had everything her heart could desire. Someday she’ll be the heiress to the Sinclair hotel branches and the fortune that comes along with it, but for now her focus is on getting through school – and nailing her musical audition after a failed first attempt. Grieving a loved one, and with emotional stability slow to heal, Finley boards a plane to Ireland – the place where her brother grew close to God, and finds herself right smack dab in the middle of a Hollywood star’s location shoot. Beckett Rush is the latest teen heartthrob – he has found fame and fortune in vampire scene, and he wants Finley as his personal assistant during her stay.
What held promise to be a peaceful year of learning… letting go… and growing closer to God is turning out to be a very hectic time for one already fragile girl.
My thoughts: I haven’t gotten this excited about any one author’s works since discovering Jenny B. Jones – well, with maybe the exception of Susan May Warren. If any of you have read Jenny’s novels before – and laughed your head off… or until the tears rolled down your cheeks, then you’ll “get” just how much I was looking forward to her latest release. My first – and only novel I had read by her was Save the Date, although I do have Just Between You and Me waiting in the wings, I was more keen to read Finley’s story than something with unfamiliar characters.You may remember Finley as the little sister of Alex Sinclair – ex-NFL superstar and budding politician – whose story was told in Save the Date. Finley was something of a rebel in Alex’s story whose life had become mundane after the loss of one brother and being ignored by the other. Reading her story was set-up for readers before we even realized how much we wanted her story to be told. In this young adult novel, Finley is a distraught eighteen-year-old who has been protected from life’s dangers. She is just coming off of a bad relationship and in need of a quiet, hopeful Christ-centered season. At 18, she was more confused about herself not only because she was becoming an adult but because of grief and I admired her character because she as not only opinionated but also – despite contrary appearances, in many ways, she was firm in her convictions.
Despite being written in the first person (not my favorite genre), Jenny writes a compelling story – more so given it is about such a young hero and heroine. Writing that genre can sometimes lend itself to being too “cutesy” or too immature for older readers. Finley makes a mature leading lady that could be a “role model” for any young girl in many faucets of her life – partially because she was admirable but mostly it stems from her recognition that she does have issues and needs healing. First impressions of Beckett may suggest he is a little bit of a lose cannon; he proved me very wrong. He is nothing less than a gentleman. Some of his morals are a little skewed but he learns a lot from Finley’s friendship and through that, Finley becomes a better person. As an author, Jenny spins a touching, beautiful story that is not to be missed – by anyone, whether you are a teen or adult. Typically teens today tend on the side of immaturity – or most do. Jenny captured this young lady’s struggle beautifully. Finley isn’t all together… but her head is on right after an experience that drastically upended her world, the only life she’d known, and a happy knowledge it was –her change of heart, she knew was displeasing to God. She took the initiative to seek Him out, to re-connect with Him and that details a wonderful character structure. Along the way, there are comic mishaps and lovely reflections. Jenny’s got a great future in Christian fiction – or that is my humble opinion and hope, and she has a wonderful sense of humor. If I’d ever get serious about writing fiction, I’d like to think Jenny’s natural talent in writing laugh-out-loud banter would be my own inspiration.
The relationship that blossoms between these two young people (Finley and Beckett) is written so that it is nothing less than endearing. I adored the way Beckett treated Finley and how she responded to him. The scenes of them exploring together (especially the “graveyard” scene nearer the end) and quiet moments are written with the utmost care – as the reader, we can tell that these character’s emotions and their story have been genuinely thought out and artfully plotted. Perhaps in part this is thanks to a setting in Ireland. We can almost hear that Irish brogue as Finley continues to meet a host of interesting natives – from the cantankerous Mrs. Sweeny to her adorably-lovable host family.
Whether you are a teenage reader or not, I’d highly recommend this novel – especially for mature minds. It’s heart-warming… it’s humorous… it’s challenging, and above all, it offers some insightful realistic struggles that we all may have wrestled with, and if we let it, that can – and should be an inspiration.