Has to Be Love by Jolene Perry
Once upon a time, Clara was a normal girl; she went to school, she went to church, she fell in love with her best friend. That was all before she was involved in a tragic bear attack that left her mother dead and her scarred. Now, as a high school senior, her problems are focused more on when she and her boyfriend will take their relationship to the next level and if Columbia is the right college for her. With the help of a new friend and teacher, Clara will learn there’s a lot more to her than just the facial scars a brutal incident left behind.
I am ever the fan of Jolene Perry. She has this way with making a typical contemporary romance something both original and exciting. Has to Be Love proves yet again that she is the master of all things ordinary and, well, still awesome. While some readers may read the synopsis and think, how am I supposed to relate to a girl with bear scars? I promise you, you can relate, and you will.
This book covers so much more than just what it is to be scarred emotionally and physically. Everyone has felt at one time or another that they aren’t enough. It doesn’t take any scars to do that, it’s a fact of life. Clara’s character brings to life just what it is to question yourself in such a way that affects life around you. Sure, no one is perfect, but should we let that shape the way we see and react around the people we love? Perry’s writing always seems to evoke these sort of questions in me, and they’re the best kind. It’s like a wake-up call you didn’t know you needed.
My only problem with this particular book is that while Clara’s boyfriend Elias was virtually fault-free, the case was the same for Rhodes, who oh so graciously evoked the best kind of emotions from Clara. He might have been older and estranged from the religion she held so dearly, but she learned from him and he helped her grow in a way I felt was so important. At the end, a big turn was made and suddenly Rhodes was the villain. I felt it was uncalled for and Perry should have thought through his character a bit more. I personally felt that there was a message wrongly delivered in this particular case. I thought Perry might have been pushing the idea that people with conflicting religions are compatible and can still have respect for one another, but in the end it didn’t seem like that was the case.
Regardless, Has to Be Love stood out in the sense that it stresses just how important making choices for yourself, and yourself alone, is. People will fluctuate in and out of your life endlessly, but the choices you make should be the ones that are done for yourself, whether in time they’re deemed mistakes or not.
Anyone in search of a story in an unlikely place with an unlikely heroine will love Jolene Perry’s latest story about love, life, and family.