Winter break is usually Izzy’s favorite time of year, but this year all it does is make her feel lonely. She adores her brother Sebastian, but she’s stuck at home taking care of him ALL. THE. TIME. And her squad–her friends from Drama I–are too busy with their own exciting plans to get together with her. So of course her phone is her lifeline!
Izzy creates and posts videos of her amazing, to-die-for cupcake creations on her Instagram account. AND she stays connected with her squad. At least she would . . . if any of them bothered to text her back. Seriously, how hard is it to text back? But then school starts up again and Zac, the dreamy senior she’s been crushing on for months, starts texting her. But her friends are less than thrilled. If they could only see Zac like she does–he’s really a great guy! Then everything would be perfect.
This was a refreshing book to read, as I feel like there aren’t many young-adult Christian books out there (or at least any quality ones). It’s not a “thump you over the head with a Bible” type of fiction story either. Rather, the characters all have Christian values which is an underlying tone of the story, and is what drives Izzy to realize the mistakes she’s making as she navigates her first relationship.
Izzy had a lot on her plate right from the start of this book. She’s the default babysitter for her younger brother, Sebastian, who is autistic and needs someone around as they’ve only recently moved into Riverbend and Sebastian still needs to become accustomed to his surroundings and new school. There’s a lot of pressure on Izzy because of this, as well as being the one who typically gets dinner ready for the family because she doesn’t have a part-time job or other extracurriculars like her older sister does. Her baking skills don’t go unappreciated though, and it’s Claire who asks Izzy to make cupcakes for her robotics club meeting, and it’s there that Izzy formally meets her crush, Zac.
As Zac begins to interest in Izzy, he also raises red flags that were blatantly obvious, yet Izzy was making decisions and slightly changing herself because she wanted Zac to be her boyfriend. It was one of those books where you yell at the main character for being so stupid and going along with a toxic person, but you also know that this character is only 15/16 years old, so of course they’re going to make dumb mistakes to get the person they like to like them back. Of course, Izzy’s friends saw what was happening and tried to warn her away from Zac, but it wasn’t until Izzy got into a bit of a pickle that she realized how she was undervaluing herself for the sake of her relationship with Zac.
“God valued me, so I needed to set better standards for myself. Standards that showed I valued myself as much as God did. That meant not changing myself to please other people. It also meant being strong enough to speak up and say no when I needed to.”
That’s where Izzy realizes she’s been neglecting her relationship with God in order to be with a guy. There was even a point before Izzy realized Zac was bad for her that she was putting her baking and social media ahead of God and took a moment to step back and read her Bible. I felt that part as I’ve had those moments where I realize I need to slow down and just focus on God first, then the rest of what’s going on in my life/my interests. The fact that this lesson was in a YA book just made me love it more.
As far as Zac goes, I knew he was a creep right from the start. I wasn’t sure exactly how it would be revealed, but you can see his sketchiness right off the bat, which is why I spent so much time facepalming at Izzy for how she tried to change for him. He was throwing more red flags than a referee (with yellow flags) in an NFL playoff game. I was glad to see how he was handled once Izzy and her friends trusted that God would bring justice to the situation.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story, despite a bit of a slow start. Even if you aren’t a Christian or religious in any way, this is a good book to read. Again, it’s not going to preach at you. It just has characters that are of faith and show that, yes, Christians too mistakes in their lives (even the adult ones), which translates well into real life. So I highly recommend this book (and its companions) to anyone looking for a clean and/or Christian YA novel, whether for yourself or a teen in your life.
Rating: 4.25/5 stars
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