Thursday, 27 August 2015

Review: Has to Be Love by Jolene Perry

Title: Has to Be Love
Author: Jolene Perry
Author Info: Website|Blog|Facebook|Twitter
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: AW Teen
Publication Date: 1st September 2015
Rating: 4 stars

Tell Me About It
Years ago, Clara survived a vicious bear attack. She's used to getting sympathetic looks around town, but meeting strangers is a different story. Yet her dreams go far beyond Knik, Alaska, and now she's got a secret that's both thrilling and terrifying--an acceptance letter from Columbia University. But it turns out her scars aren't as fixable as she hoped, and when her boyfriend begins to press for a forever commitment, she has second thoughts about New York. Then Rhodes, a student teacher in her English class, forces her to acknowledge her writing talent, and everything becomes even more confusing--especially with the feelings she's starting to have about him. Now all Clara wants to do is hide from the tough choices she has to make. When her world comes crashing down around her, Clara has to confront her problems and find her way to a decision. Will she choose the life of her dreams or the life that someone she loves has chosen? Which choice is scarier?
My Thoughts
I am a big fan of Jolene's work, so when I saw Has to Be Love on NetGalley I made my request and kept my fingers crossed, and within hours I was approved. When I first got this from NetGalley the synopsis did not mention anything about a bear attack, or losing her Mum so I didn't know that was a big factor in the book until I began reading.

As the synopsis says, Clara was attacked by a bear when out walking with her Mum, in the forest right outside her house. Clara was lucky to survive with only scars, her Mum was not so lucky and died. However, if you asked Clara she would say she was not so lucky. Her scars are the bane of her existence, and she is willing to delay university and have surgery to get them removed, so her face can be normal, and so that she doesn't have to see the sympathetic glances or hear the whispering. So she can go to Cambridge and hold her head up high and not have to worry about the looks she will get.

As Has to Be Love begins, I did feel sorry for Clara. The accident makes her very self conscious, and her life in Alaska means she has been sheltered growing up, she sees the same faces in school, church, and work. She has no experience of the 'outside world', and doesn't really have a grasp of who and what is out there for her. When Rhodes comes into the picture I could see where it was heading, and I think the rush of having a new face who clearly shows an interest in her, meant Clara made mistakes. Mistakes with her actions, her feelings, and others feelings. Leading to a lot of heartbreak but also opening new chapters for her. I think her relationship with Elias was easy, they had been together before the accident, and he was with her after the accident, but she wants more than he can give, and I think her feelings of being torn between her religion and her needs led her to Rhodes. Yes, Clara is flawed, but aren't we all in some way, and unfortunately for Clara, her choices not only affected herself, but others around her.
Clara was a determined young lady, she has her future all mapped out for herself, have surgery, go to university and live the life she missed out on, but with this came the failure to see what she had already. Her determination to focus on the surgery clouded her judgement and she had no back up plan in place.

But what we also get from Has to Be Love is the feeling of hope, that things may not work out for you, but that there is always another way to fix things, and when fences do fall, and bonds are broken, there is a way to rebuild them, to get some semblance of normality back again.

Has to Be Love took me on an emotional ride, of love, laughter, sadness, and tears. I devoured the pages of this book, needing to know if what I thought was going to happen would come true. There were twists and turns along the way, and a few things I did not see coming, but I really enjoyed the ride.

Final Verdict
Has to Be Love was another enjoyable read from Jolene, I ended up liking the characters more than I thought I would, and although it wasn't the perfect ending I expected, it did end on a somewhat happy note.

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