Book Review: Destiny by Cindy Ray Hale

destiny

Destiny is hopelessly in love with the “it” boy. He’s adorable, athletic, and the president of the student body. He walks down the hallways with a confident stride causing girls to swoon and boys to blush with jealously. The only problem? Isaac is the headmaster’s son in the Baptist private school the two attend. Destiny and her siblings are the only Mormons in the entire school, and the headmaster doesn’t take kindly to their religious differences. When the two are both cast in the Les Miserables musical, an unattainable crush turns into a very real relationship. And now, Destiny and Isaac must battle their social and religious differences while struggling to stay together against the odds of the school.

Despite the extensive book blurb, I began this book completely in the dark and was shocked by the actual plot. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but I didn’t realize religion would play such a pivotal role in the novel. I thought it seemed a little unrealistically adamant about religion for teenagers, but otherwise, the religious differences only enhanced the story.

The writing style flows well for contemporary romance and is always clear and concise. It’s written in both Destiny’s and Isaac’s perspectives, and the voices are completely separate so the reader always remembers who is who. The only qualm I have is the chapter titles. In addition to the whose point of view the chapter is written in, the title is basically a scene set up. This is good for a clear and easy transition, but I feel like it’s unnecessary and a more in depth transition would actually help the book as a whole.

Not a whole lot happens in the book, but the characters and the plot entice the reader into finishing the book. It’s so relatable. Removing religion from the situation, a background girl on the fringe of the social network draws hearts of her and the most attractive guy in school while always wishing that he’d somehow fall for her. And he does. And it’s adorable. It’s a high school fantasy come true, and all the social problems of the ex-girlfriend and clingy popular girl trying to push Destiny out of the picture would probably happen.

Now, for the unrealistic parts. I felt distant to the characters, and I couldn’t actually feel the chemistry between Destiny and Isaac as stronger as I would have liked to. Because of this, I felt like they turned into star-crossed lovers a little too quickly. Everything just sort of clicked into place for Destiny. She never really did anything, he just started thinking about her as pretty, which is also a little demeaning. I would have liked for him to start falling for her personality because of how much time they spent together rehearsing for the musical instead of him lusting over beauty. But their relationship is set up to be entirely and openly “true love,” but it didn’t feel that way all the time.

The thing that makes this book unique, though, is the religious aspects. Destiny is a Mormon, and after her conversion, her whole family has been victimized by the rest of the private Baptist school they go to. The headmaster allowed them to stay, but only reluctantly. He and many others are entirely against the Mormons, and believe that their only salvation is conversion back to Baptist. Destiny and her family believe that Mormons, while Christian and open to Baptists, should only date and marry other Mormons so their families can stay together in heaven. This creates quite a conundrum because despite her parents’ rule, Destiny is dating Isaac, but feels like she should date a Mormon and has thoughts of converting him. Isaac is dating Destiny against his dad’s judgement, and he thinks she’ll go to hell if she doesn’t convert back to Baptist.

Honestly, to me, both groups are in the wrong. The book shows their struggles with their religious beliefs and making their love life work around them. It’s a bit unrealistic how dedicated the two are to their separate religions because teenagers are more unsure of themselves and are still finding themselves at this stage in their lives. The novel points out both groups’ faults, and the reader gets to pick for themselves what they believe would be the right decision. The religious undertones make the novel different and more interesting, but it’s not overbearing or promoting one religion over the other.

Overall, I liked the uniqueness of the novel and the contemporary romance portion is fun to read. The transitions and character development could be better, but the writing style is clear and interesting and the plot never gets boring. I recommend it, especially for religious readers.

4 Stars

 

 

 

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