“Saved!” meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that takes a meaningful look at consent and what it means to give it.
When CeCe’s born-again ex-boyfriend dumps her after they have sex, she follows him to Jesus camp in order to win him back. Problem: She knows nothing about Jesus. But her best friend Paul does. He accompanies CeCe to camp, and the plan—God’s or CeCe’s—goes immediately awry when her ex shows up with a new girlfriend, a True Believer at that.
Scrambling to save face, CeCe ropes Paul into faking a relationship. But as deceptions stack up, she questions whether her ex is really the nice guy he seemed. And what about her strange new feelings for Paul—is this love, lust, or an illusion born of heartbreak? To figure it out, she’ll have to confront the reasons she chased her ex to camp in the first place, including the truth about the night she lost her virginity.
Over the Christmas break I took a bunch of books with me on holiday, but—instead of the Regency romance I was planning on finishing—I ended up reading this young adult book about a couple of non-Christian teens who go to church camp with ulterior motives.
I actually bought the much-hyped Have a Little Faith in Me because of the author’s first name (I’m shallow like that), but while it’s not a perfect book, I’m very glad I read it.
YA fiction has turned on its head since the Twilight days, when misogyny and slut shaming was so often the norm, and the female and sex-positive themes in a book set in the unlikeliest of places was a wonderful surprise. I was a little worried about how it would play out, but the way the heroine and her Christian cabinmates bonded and stuck up for each other was fantastic.
The story plays out as most readers will expect from the outset, but it’s the journey the heroine and her best friend go on together to reach that happy ending that makes it worth the effort. There were some hilarious bits—“If you don’t have any condoms with you, I have, like, a billion in my cabin.” (This at a Christian camp!)—and there were some nice emotional moments.
I had a couple of issues:
While it’s true many teens these days have serious discussions about consent etc., there were times the characters acted more like adults would want them to act than like real teens. Everyone (except the “baddies”) was a little bit too responsible all of the time.
I also don’t believe that all the kids at the state’s most conservative Christian camp would have such progressive, sex positive views. Thanks to the politics of the last few years, the whole world has been exposed to the misogyny and bigotry behind the evangelical Christian movement, and these kids all acted like extremely progressive left-leaning activists. It would have been nice to have some more conflicts of values to make it a bit more realistic.
Despite those issues I raced through this book and enjoyed it a lot. I’m sure I’ll read it again.