By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Book review: New YA novels share family, faith, suspense
"Sweet" is by Emmy Laybourne. - photo by Deseret Connect
"JOYRIDE," by Anna Banks, Feiwel and Friends, $17.99, 276 pages (f) (ages 12 and up)

Being a convenience store clerk by night and a high school student by day is the only way Carly Vega can pay El Libertador to bring Mama and Papi from Mexico and make a future for herself.

Meanwhile, Arden Moss life is in ruins. His mother escapes reality by abusing prescription drugs, and his father, the sheriff, is obsessed with the family's image. Defying his father and causing havoc are Arden's only goals these days.

When Carly accidentally disrupts one of Arden's pranks, Arden knows he has to have her as an accomplice in his shenanigans. Carly realizes how stifled her childhood has been, and Arden finds meaning in looking outside himself. But when the two of them go too far in their recklessness, Arden realizes just how much Carly stands to lose.

While the star-crossed lovers theme found in "Joyride" by Anna Banks is hardly new, Carly has grit and strength, and Arden is caring. Political commentary within the novel makes it stand out and can help readers on both sides of the immigration debate find a new perspective.

The book contains occasional sexual innuendos, but the romance does not go beyond kissing. The action is suspenseful but free of gratuitous violence.

Rachel Chipman


DEVOTED, by Jennifer Mathieu, Roaring Brook Press, $16.99, 336 pages (f) (ages 13 and up)

Seventeen-year-old Rachel Walker has done her best to be devoted to God, to help her family and prepare for her role as a wife and mother in the novel Devoted. She helps home-school and care for her younger siblings, especially when their mother has a miscarriage with what would have been the familys 11th child.

Rachel has helped set up a website for the lawn care business her father and brothers own, and she is curious about life outside the tight-knit community shes in at church and their rural Texas home.

When Rachel begins communicating with an outcast member of their congregation, it starts a series of events that leads Rachel to a crossroads of faith, devotion and family.

Author Jennifer Mathieu, who lives in the Houston area, interviewed those who had been in a similar religious movement in researching this novel, according to press materials.

Mathieu is respectful of religious beliefs as Rachel continues to believe in God and have faith, though not quite precisely the way her church leaders and father expect, in this well-told and emotional story about family and decisions.

There is some scattered swearing and no described violence or sexual content.

Christine Rappleye


SWEET, by Emmy Laybourne, Fiewel and Friends, $17.99, 272 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)

Its billed as the cruise to lose with the famous and wannabe famous on the Extravagance, along with those who want a first chance at the new, quick weight-loss sweetener Solu before its official release, in the novel Sweet.

Laurels weight-obsessed friend Vivika is hoping that it works and Laurel, 17, is feeling a bit seasick in the first days of the cruise, enough that she pukes on the shoes of the cute Tom Forelli, a former child star trying to figure out the next step in his career. Tom is also doing some of the publicity on the cruise with interviews and reports back about Solu.

Laurel and Toms paths keep crossing in the first days of the cruise, and the novel alternates between their perspectives. As neither are taking Solu, thanks to Laurels recovering seasickness and Toms trainers regime, they notice that there are dark and addictive side effects.

Sweet starts out as a playful romance and then turns into a suspense novel with characters trying to survive the effects of Solu. Author Emmy Laybourne weaves together an entertaining story. Its a distorted situation that is a horrifying tale of hoping for a quick fix.

There is occasional swearing. The romances dont go beyond kissing. However, there is quite a bit of violence, including deaths, that are generally described.

Christine Rappleye