Book review: Searching for Grace, by Juliann Rich

Rich Searching for Grace Rich, Juliann. Searching for Grace. Bold Strokes Books. 2014. $11.95. 186 p. PB. 9781626391963.

Searching for Grace is the second book in the Crossfire Trilogy about Jonathan Cooper, a Southern Baptist teen who recently discovered his feelings for another boy at Spirit Lake Bible Camp. Back at home at his school, East Bay Christian Academy, Jonathan is outed after a rumor started by a new kid at school. The novel opens with Jonathan in the hospital, barely conscious and his face badly lacerated, as he’s being interrogated. Alternating chapters depict his current search for Grace, who protects him from the interrogator, and his past few months at school being bullied by former friends and befriended with other outcasts.

Throughout all his pain and his mother’s threats to sent him to Deliverance Clinic, Jonathan never thinks that his love for Ian is wrong and constructs support systems by surrounding himself with sympathetic allies. His major conflict is whether to confirm the rumor that he is gay because he’s not ready to be open about his sexual identity. Jonathan’s struggles with bullies and trying to reconcile his feelings with his religion are realistic.

Searching could well be a stand-alone novel because of the background that Rich presents from the first book in the series, Caught in the Crossfire. Unresolved issues at the end of Searching will encourage readers to read the third book in the trilogy.

The novel is recommended for high school and public libraries.

 

Shelley Mastalerz, Teen Services Librarian

Burien Library (WA)

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