Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Review: Has to Be Love by Jolene Perry

Release date: September 1st 2015
Publisher: AW Teen
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
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?

*Publisher approved request via Netgalley.

When I first read the blurb for Has to Be Love, my interest was immediately piqued because of what Clara had been through, and not only was I curious about how she was coping with that, but I wanted to see how she would handle everything else in her life. That interest stayed for the first chapter, but then my feelings toward Clara started to waver and I found myself a bit confused at times by the story. I wasn't sure what it was about exactly. I mean, what was conveyed in the blurb was sometimes not on my mind while I read because of some of the things Clara would think or say, especially when she was with her boyfriend Elias. 

It seemed all Clara wanted to do was take their relationship to the next level, like her hormones was all over the place. Funny, because they're both of faith, and while Elias wanted to wait until marriage and Clara constantly stated that she wanted to do the same, she was always tempting Elias whenever they were alone together. She wanted more from him in general. Something different, but she wasn't quite sure what. 

Her constant self-doubt and issues with her image frustrated me a lot too. I felt like instead of spending time seeking out a specialist who could "fix her", Clara should have considered seeing a psychiatrist or someone to help her mental and emotional state. I get that what happened to her was extremely devastating. Truly, I sympathize with her. I mean, she'd lost her mother during the bear attack and had been scarred beyond repair, but honestly, she spent a good chunk of the book in self-pity and it annoyed me how she used what happened to her as an excuse to not chase after her dreams and settle into a life of indecisiveness, rather than use it as a driving force to get out there and live. 

The one thing I liked about the arrival of Rhodes was that his presence was a constant reminder to Clara that she wanted more than what she was settling for. While I didn't like their instant attraction, I could understand her risking her relationship with Elias for Rhodes. Elias was safe. They knew each other longer and he accepted Clara's scars, so she thought she should be with him because no one else would want her. Elias wasn't a bad guy, he loved her a lot. In fact, he was too perfect. And for that reason I felt just as suffocated with his character as Clara did. Not saying I liked Rhodes more and rooted for Clara to leave her boyfriend for him, but I could understand the appeal because Rhodes had a lot of experiences, he'd seen so much and was more spontaneous. But the biggest thing that attracted Clara to him was that he attended the university of her dreams, a school her deceased mother had attended as well, and Rhodes and Clara had more things in common. I had predicted what would happen between Clara and Elias, because she just wasn't ready for such a major commitment, but I was a bit surprised by the situation with Rhodes. It seemed somewhat incomplete in regards to his character.

Overall, I might not have fallen in love with the story or the characters, but it wasn't a bad read. I mean, yeah, Clara often made me want to pull my hair out with her ongoing doubts and those random scenes that depict her raging hormones (still makes no sense to me why this was part of the story), and for not being honest with herself. But in the end, I was happy that she'd finally made the right decision for her. Also, I love the setting. I can't remember the last book I read that's in Alaska so that alone was a plus for me. I like the state and would love to visit someday. 

About the Author
Jolene PerryJolene grew up in South-central Alaska. She's lived in Anchorage, near the Alyeska ski resort, on a cabin on an island on a lake, and then in a boring old house.
Jolene kissed a boy on her high school graduation night. One she'd wanted to kiss for a long time. They got married two years later, have built two homes together, survived military deployments, law school, student loan debt, and two children.
Jolene cannot express how many times she wished she could write a whole novel. And now she has. Several times. Life is good. She currently lives in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska with her family.


  1. A shame you didn't enjoy this one as much as you hoped. The random scenes have me cringing.

    Naomi @ Naomi’s Reading Palace

  2. I've been reading lots of negative reviews about this book, and that's why I'm guessing that maybe this book has the potential, only though it wasn't executed nicely.. :( Sorry that it didn't work for you. Great review! :)

    Fiona | A Girl Between the Pages
    Latest post: Book Blitz: Queen of Always (Stolen Empire #3) by Sherry Ficklin + Queen of Tomorrow (Stolen Empire #2) GIVEAWAY!

    1. Thanks, Fiona. I noticed it has lots of negative reviews, but I still went into the story with an open mind because I wanted to know what the story was about. Sadly, it didn't work out for me.

  3. I agree with a lot of your points. Especially that she should have had some sort of counseling. I did enjoy this though adn loved the setting. Great review!

    1. Thanks, Grace. Glad you enjoyed the story. Indeed, the setting is great!

  4. Sounds interesting, but probably not enough so for me to pick it up. Thanks for the review!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Give it a try, you might like it more than I did :)

  5. I love that cover and the setting in Alaska sounds awesome! It's so tough when you can;t connect with the MC, I am glad you enjoyed a few things about this one though :)

  6. Sounds like just an okay one. The cover is cute. :)


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