Love Will Keep Us Together, by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt. Hatchett: 2010, 287 pages. (Miracle Girls series #4)
Reading Level: Young adult, ages 12-15
Maturity Level: 5 (ages 12-14) and up
Bottom Line: In Love Will Keep Us Together, the four “Miracle Girls” face the challenges of senior year, including boys, college, and church.
Riley, Ana, Christine, and Zoe are the “Miracle Girls,” so called because each of them escaped death in some way. Each book in the series is named for a song title, covers a year in high school, and takes the perspective of one of the girls. This is Riley’s turn. Riley is smart, pretty, popular, and completely overcome by Senior Paralysis. Her ideas about the future have begun to diverge from her parents’ ideas; in addition, she’s worried about her autistic brother, thrown into an emotional tailspin when her ex-boyfriend comes back into her life, and disappointed when the new pastor at her church seems clueless. Freshman year, I really bought into the whole ‘J-man is my buddy routine,’ but now I don’t know. These days I need something more than that . . . something deeper, bigger and more inspiring.
I suspect a lot of Christian teens feel this way, and it’s Riley’s conflicts with her church that I appreciate most: Why does church boil stuff down to baby food? She’s hasty and sharp and misjudges some people, but comes around by the end, acknowledging that this is what the body of Christ is really like. It’s made up of thousands of individuals with different notions and views of the world. That’s a lesson even mature Christians tend to forget. Still, I sympathize with Riley’s frustration and hope she can find a more challenging fellowship.
Love Will Keep Us Together doesn’t set up a central conflict, but follows the girls through the crises and struggles of senior year and brings each to the threshold of adult life. Their friendship suffers a few dings in the process, but holds firm–maybe too firm. Statements like this are a little disconcerting: Lying to your parents is one thing. Lying to your adopted sisters, the best friends you’ve ever had, is definitely another. Huh? Riley’s ex-boyfriend, Tom, turns out to be a jerk, but there’s a new guy, Ben, who I like a lot. I also like that Riley decides to take a gap year before going to college (way to go, girl!) to sort things out. I wish more 18-year-olds did this.
Cautions: Character Issues (some condescension toward parents)
Overall rating: 3.75 (out of 5)
- Worldview/moral value: 4
- Artistic value: 3.5
Categories: Realistic Fiction, Christian, Life Issues, Young Adult