I requested this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rating- 3.5/5 stars
Publisher- AW Teen
Pages- 272 (Hardcover)
Has to be Love by Jolene Perry is a debut contemporary YA novel following a girl named Clara who is scarred for life after a horrific bear attack that claimed her mother and mauled her face. She lives in the small town of Knik, Alaska with her father and has a lovely boyfriend and lives to write. After receiving an early acceptance letter from Columbia, her life becomes even more complicated as a boy named Rhodes shows up as a replacement teacher for her english teacher who happens to be studying at Columbia. Before her acceptance letter arrived, she had her life planned- get her scars fixed, attend college in Alaska for a year with her best friend and, if she would get accepted at Columbia, go to New York where she could be confident of herself and no one would stare at her now invisible scars. But when things don’t go as she had planned, she is thrown into a predicament, accept a proposal to stay in a small town and live out her life and never give her dream a chance or give in to Rhodes’ pressure and go to New York?
The reason I picked up this book is because I have been trying to expand the type of books and characters that I read. Facial disfiguration is a very sensitive topic that I relate to. For some reason, I could not relate to Clara’s character and her near obsession with her scars. It seemed a bit too exaggerated. People with facial disfigurations (I apologize if it sounds like I’m generalizing something, feel free to state your opinion) don’t tend to be fixated on their scars. Yes, it’s hard the first time and everywhere you go you get stared at but after a while, you deal and you don’t care or you ignore them. Whether they ask you “What happened here?” or just stare at your face, either way you don’t stop your dreams for it. You’re stronger because of it. I’m not saying don’t mourn, do it. You won’t be the same again, I know, I completely understand but, believe you are more than that scar. Clara does get around to it but it just felt like it took too long and it took a boy to make her understand that which I felt was completely unnecessary and the worst trope used in writing.
The story was just okay. I felt no particular love for the characters, I disliked Rhodes a lot because he was the supposed ‘catalyst’ as is usual in a lot of books I’ve read. I also felt that Clara was too dependent on her boyfriend and the ‘new guy’ who beguiled her and infuriated her and endeared her and ‘made her realize her dream’. Like why even? Why should a boy make her realize her true potential? Why couldn’t it have been her english teacher or something? It just feels unfair to a lot of female characters that they feel the need to get approval from male characters. How about next time it’s a best girl friend encouraging the character? That would be awesome. Also, this book is a fairly slow read and is not very engaging but it’s great for diversity.
Despite everything I feel, I thought it was a decent book. If you’d like to pick it up, please do. You might just enjoy it. The book released September 1, 2015.
I rated this book a 3.5/5 stars.