Has to Be Love
Booklist Reviews 2015 September #1
A bear attack on the river trail from her Knik, Alaska, home left Clara with hypertrophic scarring on her face, back, and side, and her mother dead. With high-school graduation approaching, Clara contends with Elias, her longtime boyfriend who wants to marry and settle down; Rhodes, a handsome student teacher with wanderlust and promises of a life beyond Alaska; an acceptance to Columbia University to follow in Mom's footsteps; the possibility of skin-grafting plastic surgery; and Dad's love life progressing. These senior-year decision-making quandaries are textured by a strong Mormon faith that is accepting of frequent, heavy kissing but not premarital sex and emphasizes permanence in the form of eternal marriage. Perry's short chapters move Clara through her paces all the while pondering her life-altering choices. For those readers engaging in the safety-versus-freedom stage of adolescent development, Clara serves as a spirited model of respectfully balancing the influence of loved ones as she moves toward listening to her own true self. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2016 Spring
In a coming-of-age story set in Alaska, talented writer Clara struggles to come to terms with a bear attack that killed her mother and left her badly scarred. On top of that, her boyfriend, Elias, proposes; sexual curiosity challenges her Mormon faith; and she gets into her dream college--in NYC. Perry deftly combines many complex threads to reach a satisfying conclusion.