Thursday, November 17, 2011

Looking Outside the Box And a Book Review: Hope's Journey

As a writer, I’ve been asked to do some pretty great things like be a beta reader, edit something awesome, teach a class on writing, make up kids’ stories, that sort of thing. But I have to say one of the most awesome things I’ve been asked to do recently has been writing songs for a road show. It isn’t something you would necessarily think a writer would be asked to do, but I’m having so much fun doing it. It’s definitely out of the box for me. So, today, instead of giving you a writing tip for Writing Tip Thursday, I’m going to tell you two things.

1. Step out of the box and do something weird sometimes. It will make great material for a book someday.

2. Read a book you might not normally read.

For my number two, I want to tell you about a book I’ve been reading called Hope’s Journey by Stephanie Worlton. This book explores the ins and outs of teenage pregnancy and how it affects the teenage couple involved.

We are introduced to Sydney Steele, a girl who has it all---tons of friends, good looks, and lots of scholarships to consider as soon as high school ends. Until the day she finds out she’s pregnant. Then everything changes.

Her boyfriend, Alex Hastings, is a tall handsome boy with just as much going for him. He’s planning to serve a mission for the LDS church, planning to go to college, and planning for a future. A future that changes with two lines on a pregnancy test.

I thought the author did a great job in describing the roller-coaster of emotions that follows an unplanned pregnancy announcement---both for the couple and for their families. I liked the back and forth between the two points of view and how different they each saw the same events. I also liked the visual of how many weeks Sydney was into her pregnancy and how it sort of corresponded with the changes she was experiencing in her life. It was a nice touch on the page.

However, the author talks many times about Sydney’s insecurities and hints at family problems and I wish that angle could have been explored more to explain why Syd felt and acted the way she did. I also liked how the friends were explored so carefully and that throughout the journey they seemed authentic and real. I would have wanted Sydney’s friends for any of my teens. (And without giving anything away, I don’t know if I would have chosen what Sydney did in the end “friends-wise” anyway.) And I would have liked a little more depth with Sydney’s brother about why he makes the decisions he does, but it’s really a small detail in the book.

If I’m going to be honest, I loved reading about Sydney’s journey a little more than Alex’s and I thought he got off a bit too easy in some instances when his behavior was over the top. I enjoyed the deep emotional scenes and think this author has an ability to really paint the scene for her readers. Because of this, I really wanted to see some of the important scenes in the journey told right when they happened, but unfortunately the author just told us about them later. With her talent, this was the reader’s loss for sure.

All it all, though, this was an emotional book that pulled me in and really made me think about what I would do if any of my teens found myself in this position.

Here is the back copy:

Sydney is a straight-A student heading to college on a scholarship, and Alex is a quiet jock preparing to serve an LDS mission. But their dreams are shattered on the eve of their high school graduation when they find out that Sydney is pregnant. Separated, they must both trust in God as they search for the worth they once found in each other.

And you can click here for the Amazon link

The author is also giving away a free copy of her book. So if you'd like to enter, here is the info on that:

Hope's Journey Giveaway:

As part of Hope's Journey's blog tour, we will be giving away an autographed copy of Hope's Journey to one lucky winner. To enter, simply visit the author’s blog ( and leave a comment on the BLOG TOUR page. Plus, for a few bonus entries, “like” Hope's Journey on Facebook or become a follower of Stephanie’s blog. It's that easy!


Michael Offutt said...

Sounds like good writing. I thank you for the book recommendation.

Debra Erfert said...

It's tugging at my heart already. Thanks, Julie.

Tracy Krauss said...

Good advice - step outside the box and read something you wouldn't normally read. I've been reading a fair bit of straight up romance which is, for me, not something I normally rad. I'm a sci-fi / spec person myself, but I've been asked to review a lot of books lately. some of them I even enjoyed! said...

If you or anyone else would have told me I'd end up writing a musical, I'd have called you crazy, but I have and writing the lyrics for the songs was a blast. Later hearing my words sung back to me was beyond thrilling.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

You're welcome, Michael and Debra!

Tracy I know how you feel. Sometimes I get asked to review things that are just not my cup of tea and I end up really liking them!

Bridget, that is the best feeling of all! I really didn't expect that. Glad you knew what I was talking about! :)

Sarah Pearson said...

Love the idea of you doing something different and writing songs. It's easy to say 'I'm sorry, I can't do that'. Much more fun to say 'okay, I'll give it a go'. :-)

Misty Moncur said...

SUCH a good book. I loved it.