First Lines: I was four the first time I accepted Jesus into my heart. I say first time because I did it at least twelve times before I turned sixteen. Better to be absolutely sure, you know?
I know she’s a fairly new author, but I have yet to find an Erin Hahn book I haven’t liked. She’s a fun, unique voice in YA, with her books focusing on music and family and love in ways that I feel like are different that most things on the market. So I was excited to get to this one.
Meg has just learned her entire life has been a lie. At 18, she truly thought she had her life figured out, but with one conversation, her world is thrown off axis. Instead of taking her gap year to work and find herself, she’s now heading to meet what’s left of the family she never knew existed. While there, she meets Micah, the son of a former pastor who ended up in prison. Micah has his own complicated feelings around the church and, with his father’s parole hearing coming up, Micah has to decide if he’s willing to forgive–because he certainly can’t forget. As Meg and Micah grow closer, they’ll have to navigate the complicated process of growing up and cutting ties with childhood beliefs while also discovering what it means to fall in love.
It was…not exactly what I was expecting. But that’s also not necessarily a bad thing.
Hahn’s books so far have been heavy on their musical influences. And I was kind of expecting that to continue. At first, it did. Meg and Micah have musical talents that they lean on to help them through rough patches. But that really didn’t carry on past the beginning of the story too much. And you know, that’s fine. This is a new book with new characters who have different interests.
But wow, was it a left turn when this book turned into a heavily religious-focused book instead. I mean, I kind of got that from the blurb, but it was a lot. However, this isn’t your typical Christian lit or anything. They question. They get angry with the church. They struggle with following their hearts and following the scripture, but more of like, “Is this actually how we’re supposed to live?” And I’m not going to lie, I related a lot to Meg. I had a similar (but much less rigid) upbringing. I’ve been in her shoes and, as someone who felt so alone through that process, it was a bit like finding a piece of myself in Meg. A recognition that I’m not the only one who feels/felt like this. And if I’m out here feeling that, I know there have to be others.
Ok, now let’s actually talk about the story. The characters are adorbs. Meg has learned some serious secrets her mom has been keeping from her and she doesn’t really know who she is anymore. Meg’s courage and her journey to make a new home in Marquette was really cool because the girl is fierce in a really understated here. Micah’s life fell apart six years ago when his pastor father got caught and went to prison. It broke Micah’s faith in…well, a lot of things. Now he’s finally getting to a place where he can feel normal when his father’s parole meeting comes up and all of this crap is thrown back in his face again. So Meg’s fresh face and faith in him is the much needed anchor in the storm to help get him through it. It was cute to see both of them together.
There’s something about Hahn’s writing that just pulls me in. From the second or third chapter, I knew I was into this story and I could feel myself there with the characters. I’m not sure what exactly it is that makes her writing so good, but it’s there.
The only thing I could maybe say that’s slightly negative about this was that I felt like the romance was a bit…I don’t know what to call it. Easy isn’t quite the right word, but predictable isn’t exactly it either. But I definitely felt like we were watching a Hallmark movie version of a relationship. And I say that as someone who really enjoys Hallmark movies, but it was something I noticed.
Anyway, this was a really good read, but it could be off-putting for people who don’t like the way religion is depicted in this book.