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Surviving Haley

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Surviving Haley by Brenda Baker

Lauren Werthman is a new student in town. She and her family have just experienced one of the most heart wrenching events that can touch a family, the loss of a child. Each member of  Lauren’s family deals with the loss in a differing ways which effect the family. Lauren’s coping of the grief and guilt are through depression and eating. Her relationships with classmates are effected by her reactions to the tragedy and her classmates struggles through their life experiences.

Ms. Baker’s debut novel is well written and draws the reader into Lauren’s world. The subjects that the author explores through the Werthman family and Lauren’s friends are very real for many teens. Many teens will relate to one or more of the issues that the characters are struggling with during the story. Eli, one of the classmates who befriends Lauren, struggles with being bullied because of his stuttering. Jonah, a Christian student, befriends Lauren on her first day of school. The portrayal of Jonah is spot on for many Christian teens. Ms. Baker shows the struggles and imperfection of Jonah’s life.

This is a refreshing story that explores many issues that many teens face. Does it go in to depth into these issues? No. This story introduces many of the issues and shows flaws in many of the characters. My biggest criticism of the novel is that the ending seemed rushed. The story was tied up quickly and left the reader feeling the ending was incomplete. Wondering, what was the result of her and her family’s choices. The reader experienced the forgiveness that happened with the family but then the story had the characters making decisions that just left the reader wondering.

Even with the rushed ending, give this to a teen who is looking for a good read that likes realistic fiction. Start a conversation after they read it to see what their feedback was or what they think happened after the story ends. The book would be a great book discussion book for teens to explore forgiveness, relationships and how choices impact each other.

I received this e-Arc from NetGalley and Pelican Book Group in exchange for an honest review.

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