MaryAnn Dennis's Reviews > Hope's Journey

Hope's Journey by Stephanie Connelley Worlton
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Oct 27, 2011

it was amazing
Read in October, 2011

blurb--"The seemingly perfect worlds of Sydney and Alex, high school sweethearts on the brink of graduation come crashing down around them when they learn that Sydney is pregnant. They face separate journeys of self-discovery and loneliness as they try to rebuild their individual lives and shattered dreams."

It's not just another YA romance. Sydney is a straight A student and very active in the LDS faith. Alex plans to serve an LDS mission.

At the beginning, I thought this would be a difficult read, but the author's words flow seamlessly, almost effortlessly. That is the sign of a great author--one who makes writing appear effortless.

It's not just that this is well written. This book has great potential for vast amounts of good. I think it helps us see people and situations more the way the Savior sees them.

The characters are very well developed. I related to them on two different levels.

First, it took me back to age 17, dating my first boyfriend. Although thankful we didn't cross that line--this story could've been ours just as easily.

Second, I related as a Young Women's leader. How do I help the self esteem of a Young Woman convinced that she is worthless. One particular Young Woman came to mind--a friend of my daughter. I prayed over her, talked with her, and treated her as one of my own, but she was in denial. Instead of getting to the root of the problem, her mother provided birth control. I will never know if she was able to pull out of that tailspin.

This I do know, if she'd had the chance to read Hope's Journey, I think it would've made a big difference in her life. In fact, I think every young woman of dating age, and every young man who has a girlfriend should read this book.

The author does a wonderful job dispelling the stereotype. Many good LDS kids find themselves in this situation. They're not necessarily bad kids, but normal mistake makers like the rest of us.

The author also does a great job portraying the honest emotions of both sides. Although I often found myself thinking Alex was a selfish jerk, I couldn't help but admire the courage it took to be so open and honest. Yes, Alex is fictional, but his reactions are very common in the real world.

SPOILER ALERT: My only concern is the ending. While the author acknowledges that Syd's answer is not going to be everyone else's answer, I fear that kids who read this will rationalize that things should work out this way for them without putting their own effort into finding their own answers. From my experience as a labor and deliviery nurse, Syd's answer is not typical--it's more the exception. Kids get the impression of the "happily-ever-after" ending rather than the "beginning-of-work-and-compromise-for-the-rest-of-your-life" sort of ending. The author does provide sound advice and discussion questions at the end. For me I woould've liked to read one more chapter about the work and struggle of the next several years.

Read this with your kids so they don't miss the whole point of this book. No matter how the story ends for each individual, the message of hope is the same. If you take the steps of repentance in faith, Heavenly Father and the Savior's atonement provide that hope and all of the little details will work out, regardless of those details.

Overall, this book is a definite must read for teenagers in general, but especially for those who find themselves in this position, and their parents, because it truly does bring Hope.
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