Words can barely describe the gammut of emotions I experienced while reading this novel. I absolutely adored Salvaged (the first book), which captivated me from the first page, but I loved Rise even more. I didn't think it was possible, but it's true. I can't remember how many times I got choked up or tears welled in my eyes, but I experienced some powerful emotions while reading this story.
There was so much good stuff in the book about what real love was, and the importance of being with someone because you want to be, not because you need to be with them to feel "whole." Attie was in many ways a needy, but loveable person, yet the fact that she needed protection made Riley love her even more. It got to the point where it was unhealthy. But it was still a powerful thing to observe. It kind of reminded me of A Walk to Remember where you just hurt for the guy on so many different occasions.
I loved the theme related to the importance of fathers and how being devastated by a father's rejection can really mess up a young woman's heart. Attie had plenty of reasons to feel crushed, hurt and rejected. But I adored her as a character, and even more than I did in the first book. I hated to see her going through all of those painful situations but she needed them to grow.
The theme regarding Jesus and how you can walk away and yet he never leaves you was pretty powerful. It made me think about my own faith and how many times I don't think to go to Him and try to solve things on my own. He is standing by patiently waiting for us to reach out to him. That was so well done. I also loved how Jesus encouraged Attie to tell Him how she felt and to "let him have it" because "he could take it." Well done! Honesty with God and with ourselves is always a good thing.
The healing themes in this book really touched me deep inside. Having made some dumb choices myself that had lasting consequences, I appreciated how the author laid it all out there. The pros and the cons, the motivations of the heart, the need to consider how each choice we make will not only influence our lives, but others around us was well done. And I loved Coop. He was a great guy. In some ways he was part of Attie's healing, but I still hurt for him. I felt like I was reading a Nicholas Sparks love story on more than one occasion and needed to remind myself that the story was fiction and these weren't real people.
I am sad the series has ended because I truly loved this story. The characters felt so real to me, it was like we were friends. The story warmed my heart and made an impact on me. It also made me think about my spiritual life, which is always a good thing. Attie made me want to be more honest with myself and others because I saw how it benefitted the characters in the story. The only way to be truly healthy is to rely on Jesus and not on other people. It doesn't mean we can't love deeply, but it does mean our hope needs to be in God and not in people.
Such a fantastic story, and if I could, I'd give it ten stars. Did I mention it was very well written? This author is incredibly gifted and really knows how to evoke emotion in the reader. I highly recommend this story. It's making my favorite fiction list for 2011.