Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book Review: Destiny by Cindy Ray Hale

Destiny Clark, a young Mormon girl living in Tennessee, is wildly infatuated with Isaac Robinson, the headmaster's son at her Baptist high school. When they're cast together in the school's production of Les Misérables, Destiny is horrified to find that she has to be publicly humiliated by acting out her true feelings of rejection onstage.

As their rehearsals begin, Destiny realizes the unimaginable: Isaac has developed deep feelings for her despite their religious differences and the fact that he has a girlfriend.

But will they be able to find their place amongst the backbiters of their ultra-conservative world?

Weaving around Destiny and Isaac's alternating viewpoints, Destiny is the first book in a series inspired by the characters of Les Misérables and explores heartbreak, self-discovery, intolerance, and love.NOTE: I received the book from the author in exchange of my honest review.


Okay, let me tell you something before I get to the real review. I was a bit biased when requesting the book. Why? Because Mormons. Sure, I'd heard of them, but do you think I had anything positive to say about them? Of course not.

No, I have not converted.

But I really enjoyed this novel, and I will look out for the next installments. To be honest, I got hooked to review it after reading several excerpts, which were just intoxicating.

So here we are now.

Writing style:
Clean, flows well and makes you want to devour the book. I don't remember seeing anything that bothered me.

Story line:
Destiny and her family are Mormons. She and her siblings go to a Baptist school, where everyone whispers behind their backs, and more or less hates them. Isaac is the son of the school's principal, so naturally he's forbidden to have anything to do with Destiny. Things get messy when those two teenagers' worlds collide.

Themes:
- Being different - does it mean fitting in or standing out?
- Keeping your faith steady even under enormous pressure is admirable
- Can you judge a person's character by the nature of their beliefs (even though you've got no clue what those beliefs are)?
- And of course, can love conquer any obstacle?

Characters:
Destiny is the odd person in every situation, in every conversation. She isn't shy, but nobody really wants to talk to her because of her faith. It's as if she's got a pandemic virus and any mild contact would cause it to spread. Nobody really wants to know her, but they're pretty happy with pointing fingers. It's weird how those who claim to be real believers, real Christians, do nothing to prove it. They only find it in themselves to hate and spread animosity.
I was surprised that Destiny was above all that. Sure, it got on her nerves, but it wasn't like she was stuck on it. She accepted her family's conversion, she understood what it was about and she was firm in sticking to it.
Too bad she wasn't supposed to fall in love with a non-Mormon.

When there is a damsel in distress, Isaac is the perfect guy for the job. Except, the damsel is not distressed at all, and he's sticking his nose where he has no business. Which, of course, leads to a series of cascading rippling events that ultimately lead Isaac into Destiny's willing but uncertain embrace.
At first, I thought that Isaac was just shallow. And narrow-sighted. But it turned out that he was massively brain-washed to not believe anything that didn't come out of his father's mouth.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we should all go and convert to be Mormons. Or anything that isn't what we truly believe. What I'm saying is that we shouldn't be hateful just because someone has a different understanding of Christianity. Or other religions.
Which is why I liked Isaac. He wasn't like the rest of his circle. He wanted to know what was going on before he could decide what was right and what not.

Isaac's cousin, Hannah, was sort of the catalyst to all those events. She took a liking to Destiny and befriended her. And she didn't care what Destiny did or did not believe. I liked her spunk, her energy.

In conclusion, I took this novel to heart, because it teaches of the harm religious bigotry can cause in the community. It was an enjoyable read, and I will definitely be waiting for the next installment.

My rating is