Sunday, September 29, 2019

Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

When I saw the blurb comparing this book to Saved! I thought that was a huge mistake, because Saved! was a perfect movie with such a heartfelt message and it kind of seemed like it was setting this book up for failure. Well, color me wrong, because this was the second emotional YA read to fill me with emotional joy. Not only is this a brilliant book about religion, sex, and love, it's got a great romance and an awesome message, and I could totally see it becoming an amazing movie in its own right some day.

HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME is about a teenage girl named CeCe who is reeling from a breakup. Her Christian boyfriend, Ethan, broke up with her after they had sex, claiming that she was a "temptation" that he needed to avoid and he needed to focus on his faith. Desperate to get him back, CeCe joins a bible camp called Three SixTeen in order to prove to him that she can be the girl he wants her to be, despite her friend Paul's warnings.

Ever the supportive one, Paul accompanies CeCe to Camp Three SixTeen and CeCe discovers that Ethan has been meeting a girl every summer here that he's been secretly in love with-- and that girl is one of CeCe's roommates. To spite him, she pretends to be dating Paul, much to Paul's displeasure. When the fake relationship starts to have more value than her real one ever did, and CeCe discovers herself learning a lot about her own misconceptions about religion and faith, she starts to wonder if her plan is even worth it.

Guys, I could go into PARAGRAPHS about why this book was so amazing. Seriously, I want to gush over this the way I did with FULL DISCLOSURE (another must-read). Rather than doing that, though, I'm going to resort to my favorite medium of laziness: bullet points.

So why is HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME so amazing?

✔️ Female friendships. CeCe starts off the book thinking her cabin mates are going to be super weird and super lame, and ends up being totally surprised and aware of her own biases. Mandy, Sarina, and Astrid were the best. They were all so different, but their kindness and willingness to support and empower other women made them all equally wonderful in their own way. I loved their interactions with CeCe and how quick they were to embrace her into their fold.

✔️ Sex positivity. You wouldn't think that would be the case in a book about religion, but HAVE A LITTLE FAITH not only has some excellent conversations about safe sex and consent, it also shows that there's plenty of room for these conversations, regardless of faith, and the harm that religion can sometimes do if we use it as a vehicle to play out our own biases. This is so important and I love that so many YA books are talking about this, because none of them did in the ones I read as a girl.

✔️ Dreamy boys. Paul was such a sweetheart. Teenage me would have had such a crush on him. Adult me wanted to shake his hand and tell him that he was a wonderful advocate for women. Paul is proof that love interests can be respectful and attractive, and I would love to see more romantic leads like him. Whether he was a friend or a love interest, he was just such a decent human being.

✔️ Serious conversations about faith. What makes a good Christian? This book delves into that, and shows that the people who practice are just as diverse in creed and interpretation as you would see in virtually any other demographic. Some people use religion to excuse or rationalize bad behavior (like Ethan), but others use it to do good (like Astrid). HAVE A LITTLE FAITH shows how to have a healthy relationship with religion, while still having doubts.

✔️ A great story. Honestly, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH captures everything that is good about summer and camp and friendships. While reading this, I really felt like I was at summer camp again. It's such a great adventure story and is filled with fun hi-jinks and great relationship. There was nothing I didn't like about it, and at the end of the story, I was reluctant to say goodbye to the characters. Reading this made me remember why I loved reading YA so much as a teen. I loved it.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 

4.5 to 5 out of 5 stars

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