A struggle for self-identity forms the core of this crowded novel, the latest entry in Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series.
Kate is spending her summer working as a counselor at a church-run camp. She's still reeling from her decision to help her best friend Emily get an abortion and hopes that in the mountains of Tennessee, she will get a sign that God forgives her. With a camp director who singles her out unfairly, counselors who don't act very Christian in Kate's judgmental opinion and the end of her friendship with Emily, there's only one thing that's going right: Kate's blossoming relationship with Matt, the boy who gave Kate her first kiss years ago at camp. Matt is charming, sweet and clearly crazy about her. But the way Matt makes Kate feel contradicts everything she's learned in church. If Kate wants to have friends and love, she'll have to decide what she believes. Kate's sheltered worldview is well-drawn, and the hesitant first steps on her spiritual journey are handled sensitively. There are more characters than necessary, especially with characters from Kenneally's other books making appearances, as well as too many issues, such as abortion, parental abuse and gay relationships, giving the story a kitchen-sink feel.
That said, Kate's growth will keep readers, Christian or otherwise, reading. (Fiction. 14 & up)