ARC Review: Has to Be Love by Jolene Perry


Has to Be Love
Series: None
Author: Jolene Perry
Published September 1st 2015 by AW Teen

Goodreads Synopsis
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?

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way impacted on my view.

Has to Be Love was a nice, and enjoyable story. I read it in under a day, and was quite intrigued about Clara, and her life. When she was younger, Clara survived a bear attack which killed her mother, but no unscathed. She was left with scars running across her face, her shoulder, and her back. She has felt disfigured and ugly ever since that has happened, and is basically putting her life, and future, on hold until she can have cosmetic surgery to reverse the damage. Her biggest dream is to study at the prestigious Columbia University, her mother's alma mater, and she has, somehow, been accepted. She doesn't know what to do. Does she defer a year, have the surgery, then go to New York? And what does she do about her long time boyfriend, who believes they'll be together, forever, and she has no plans of leaving the state at all? These issues all come to a head when student teacher, Rhodes, himself a student at Columbia, arrives, and makes her question everything.

First things first, I had a few issues with this book, the biggest being that Clara was about to put her life on hold for her boyfriend. For someone who has dreamt of being a writer all her life, and studying on the other side of the country, I couldn't believe she was going to forget all that for some guy. Elias was a character I was not keen on, at all, though I understood that he really loved Clara, and it wasn't his fault that she'd kept everything from him. 

The secret keeping was another issue I had. She lied to a lot of people about her true feelings, and, for someone who kept preaching about religion and saving sex for marriage, she also cheated on her boyfriend. I'm not a religious person, so I tend to be a bit wary about books in which religion plays a big role, but I felt like Clara was a bit fake. She criticised the lack of church and state (something that should definitely be criticized), and kept mentioning how boring her sermons were, but then used religion to hold her back at times. I understand wanting to save yourself for marriage, and commend that. But in this case, the answer to that was getting married at 18/19? You haven't lived life at all, and are about to settle down, in the only place you've ever been? 

Her romantic relationships were both problematic, and I'm not entirely sure if I liked either of them. Both male characters limited her, and she needed to think about herself, at least in my point of view. I'm glad she had her female friends to talk to, and especially visited New York in order to fully decide on what she was going to do with her future. Cecily was the best friend I could've picked for Clara, and I loved how she helped Clara feel right about herself, and start to consider her scars as something other than ugly.

The ending was something that really helped the book, and I'm glad that events turned out the way it did. That being said, Has to Be Love isn't exactly a memorable book. I'm writing this review less than half an hour after finishing the book, and I've already had to go back and check names, details, etc. I think, overall, it's just a nice, contemporary book, one that was neither good, nor bad. It had a nice protagonist, an angst filled plot, and fun side characters. It's one I'd recommend for someone who just wants an easy, cute read, that also has an important plot.

Dates Read:
August 21, 2015

3 Stars

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