32. After Hours by Claire Kennedy
This is a young adult novel centered around a group of teenagers working at an upscale restaurant where the real money is made in the after hours game of Tips played among the staff. It’s a high stakes game based on dares that leaves the winner with a lot of money. Each of the characters has their own reason why they need the money and why they don’t necessarily want to participate in the dares they are presented with.
Even for a YA book I found this novel to be pretty over the top ridiculous. Not to mention that the game itself didn’t really make any sense to me. The dares never really seemed like that big of a deal for the most part, and it also never made any sense to me how the game would make anyone that much richer in the way the characters seemed to indicate it would. I give this a 4 out of 10.
30. You Can Trust Me by Sophie McKenzie
Livy finds her best friend Julia dead in her apartment. Everyone else is convinced it was a suicide, but Livy becomes convinced that Julia was actually murdered and by the same person who murdered her sister many years before. Her quest to clear her friend’s name and also catch her murderer alienates her from her family and leads her on a dangerous quest teaming up with the secret boyfriend she discovered Julia had.
I found this book rather clumsy. Characters are specifically set up to be red herrings in an obvious way while the actual killer sort of comes out of nowhere. I didn’t find this a very well written mystery, which is a shame because I really enjoyed McKenzie’s last book. I give it a 6 out of 10.
31. Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans
Rachel Held Evans found that while she still loved God and considered herself a Christian she couldn’t abide with the Church that too often seemed to be hypocrtical, hateful, and demeaning to women. Through a book framed around the seven sacraments of baptism, communion, confirmation, confession, marriage, vocation, and death she examines her own journey within the Church from leaving it to trying to find a way back in.
Evans is a wonderful writer and I found this book to be a wonderful exploration of her journey, one that I thing many liberal Christians faced with more conservative churches and upbringings may face. As someone who has very progressive views I really identified with a lot of her struggle. I’m lucky enough to have found a church that I love and focuses on the things I feel are most important that I can not get bogged down in the areas I might not completely agree with their views on. Evans does a really good job of talking about finding a church and community that is right enough for you because no church will ever hold 100% of your beliefs on everything. For anyone who feels alienated by the church but still feels called to it I highly recommend this book. I give it an 8 out of 10.