Because most love stories are about people in their twenties or late teens, it is sometimes difficult to draw a strict line between novels meant for an adult audience and those written for teens or Young Adults. Two such novels are Going Home by Robbin J. Peterson and Pierced by Love by Laura L. Walker. Both authors are newly published writers. Both novels waver between adult and YA into an area I call Borderline due to interest level and content. Peterson is a graduate of Utah State University. Walker graduated from Northern Arizona University. Both new authors show a great deal of promise.
Going Home is the story of John Miller, a young elder sent home early from his mission to Peru when he is emotionally unable to handle his companion’s tragic death. He struggles to move forward with his life, to resume his relationship with his girlfriend, and to make sense of the questions and doubts the experience has brought. Putting the experience behind him by forgetting it ever happened isn’t working. He feels like a failure and is paired with the mission’s star missionary for the trip home and when he reaches home his relationship with his siblings isn’t always the best. His lifelong best friend and her problems add further confusion to his life.
This book isn’t strictly a romance, but deals with issues around coping with death and the struggle to keep testimonies strong when assailed with trouble. John has two young women in his life. Maggie has been his best friend since they were toddlers. He fell in love with beautiful, talented Nicolie shortly before leaving for his mission and she has written to him faithfully while he’s been away. Maggie is healing from a broken engagement and an injury. She’s also preparing to serve a mission. Nicolie is goal and career oriented. Both are important to John.
At times the characters behave like children, their vocabulary is filled with teenage jargon, then they face situations and serious questions that have them acting more like adults. Some readers may be uncomfortable with some of the flippancy of the missionaries in the first part of the book and the squabbles between siblings.
The plot bogs down somewhat in the middle of the book, but the pace then picks up and moves more quickly to a satisfying ending. There are a number of quotes from familiar LDS hymns and scriptural references that are well placed and serve to show the growth of John’s testimony and both his maturing and healing process.
Laura Walker set her novel Pierced by Love on the campus of her alma mater Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. Noelle Jensen loves to run and is expecting a ring any day from Chase, the guy she has been dating for eleven months. Imagine her shock when he proposes–to her sister. This is the second time Noelle’s marriage expectations have been smashed. She turns to her campus neighbor and former home teacher, Pierce, for comfort and friendship. Their friendship deepens, but they’re both leery of falling in love. She’s been burned twice and he comes from a broken home where he seldom saw his father, who ignored him on the rare occasions he was around.
Her family’s expectations concerning how soon she should get over Chase and that she should participate in her sister’s wedding plans and even be her bridesmaid are a little unfeeling, but being left out would be difficult too. Complicating their relationship is being roommates as well as sisters. For people in their twenties, their relationships with their parents, none of whom are particularly likable people, are unrealistic and at times inconsistent. Relationships between roommates and other dorm residents feel more natural. The book is a little preachy, but presents an interesting dilemma. This story, too, presents a perspective on the part faith plays in healing and maturing.
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GOING HOME by Robbin J. Peterson, Published by Covenant Communications, Inc., 237 pages, soft cover, $16.99. Also available for e-readers.
PIERCED BY LOVE by Laura L. Walker, Published by Bonneville Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc., 224 pages, soft cover $14.99 Also available for e-readers.