By Chandra Sparks Taylor
Publication date: April 1, 2010
After a difficult junior year, Courtland Murphy doesn't know what to expect when she starts school in the fall. She plans to focus on basketball, her membership in Worth the Wait, and spending time with her friends and family. Unfortunately she faces a lot of bullying at school and difficulties at home with her dad's strange behavior and her mother's unexpected pregnancy. The one bright spot is her friendship with new student Aidan Calhoun but after all that she has been through Courtland doesn't know if she can trust him. This is book two in the Worth the Wait series.
The Promise is the first Chandra Sparks Taylor book that I've read. I unfortunately did not realize that this was book two in a series when I started reading it but the main events in book one, The Pledge, were explained so I was able to follow book two without a problem.
What I liked about The Promise is the realistic emotions expressed by the characters. Courtland especially goes through some really difficult things during the course of the novel. Sometimes in Christian fiction, it seems that the characters are put through a lot of terrible things but they are so cheerful that it comes across as fake. That is not the case in The Promise. Courtland, her family, and her friends all face hard situations and the characters are very authentic in their response to these situations. The main message of the series seems to be abstinence but not all of the characters choose to practice abstinence and the topic is handled well . The novel also looks at themes of forgiveness and family relationships. I think that aspect of the book is particularly well done.
One thing I did not like was the character of Allen. He seemed more like a caricature and we didn't really see in this particular novel what motivated him to behave the way he did. I did not see any resolution for his character so I am curious if there will be a third book in the series although Courtland is finished with school at the end of the second book. I also felt that there were too many "issues" crammed into the novel. It would have been nice to keep the focus on Courtland without going into so many side issues with the other characters, such as Courtland's best friend Bree.
Overall I did like The Promise. I read it fairly quickly because I wanted to know how the story would end and to have my questions answered. I became very absorbed in the story and angry at how Courtland was treated. The Promise is entertaining and Courtland is a likeable character. Although it is Christian fiction, the faith elements of the novel are not heavy handed. The novel is more about making good choices, being true to yourself, and believing that you should be treated with respect. The first novel in the series, The Pledge, was selected by YALSA for their 2010 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers list. I would not be surprised if The Promise also made the list for 2011. I think this novel would hold wide appeal for teenage girls.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this title from the publisher for review purposes.