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?
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Jolene Perry has a degree in political science and has taught middle school and high school. Her previous novels include Out of Play, The Summer I Found You, and Stronger Than You Know. She lives with her husband and family in Alaska.From School Library Journal:
Gr 7 Up—Senior year is a confusing time for most teens, but Clara has extra challenges to deal with. She got into her dream university, but it would take her thousands of miles away from everything she knows in her small Alaska town. Her boyfriend is talking more seriously about their future, but there is a new student teacher who is making her doubt everything she thought she knew. And overshadowing it all are the scars that mar her face and remind her of the violent grisly attack that took her mother. This book breathlessly captures that adolescent moment of being torn between an old life and the possibility of the new as well as romance and the dangers and exhilarations of physical contact. There is a persistent thread of Mormon faith throughout the book, but Perry integrates it with a light touch that reads as integral to the characterizations rather than an attempt at evangelizing. The characters are well developed and engaging, occasionally falling into familiar tropes (the forbidden older lover being one), but are well drawn and likable enough to overcome that. While the Alaskan setting is true to life, even that pales compared to the authentic, dynamically portrayed interior setting: a senior year in high school and all the transitions that entails. What at first glance appears to be a romance novel featuring a stock girl character with two love interests is revealed to be much more mutilayered coming-of-age tale about finding one's own way in the world. VERDICT Teens who identify as Latter Day Saints will certainly gravitate to this novel, though the rich writing, strong female protagonist, and faith message will help it find wider readership.—Elizabeth Nicolai, Anchorage Public Library, AK
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