Source: Review copy from the publisher.
Back Cover Description:
As the popular darling of the junior class and heiress to the five-star Monrovi Inn empire, Kate has both everything and nothing. She's bored with school and life...until she locks eyes with Caleb at a school dance.
Caleb is new to Kate's exclusive prep school, and it's clear he doesn't fit in. In fact, he and his dad work in maintenance for Kate's father. And while Caleb knows better than to spend time with the boss's daughter, it seems that every time he tries to back away, something pulls him right back in.
When their parents demand that they are to stay away from each other, they learn of a fight between their families that occurred more than fifty years ago. It's a mystery Kate doesn't understand...but a legacy Caleb has endured his entire life.
With the world stacked against them, Caleb and Kate will have to walk by faith to find the path that God has planned for them.
Caleb + Kate is a young adult romance novel. Though Caleb had a point-of-view role and was portrayed well, this novel will appeal most to female teens. The story switched between Kate and Caleb's point-of-view with both sections clearly marked and written in first person present tense ("I stand" instead of "she stood"). Though I noticed it, the present tense read smoothly and didn't bother me.
On the actual printed cover, Caleb's skin is darker than it looks in the above cover picture. This is good since Caleb is full-blooded Hawaiian and is described as having deeply tanned or brown skin.
The pacing and world-building were very good. The characters were realistic and usually very likable. Caleb was a great character. I was irritated by Kate's selfishness in deliberately doing things that tempted Caleb physically when she knew that they tempted him and that HE wanted to wait until marriage...but it did fit her "if you want it, you can have it" upbringing.
Kate, after seeing affairs and divorces in other families, doubted that there was such a thing as lasting love. I liked that the author brought up this issue. But I was a bit disappointed that Kate's "this is what true love is like" answer started with lust at first sight (on her part) and an "electric" feeling at every touch. The lasting loves I've seen (like my parents and grandparents) started with no excessive attraction or 'spark' at first sight but grew due to similar interests and time spent together. However, it was a nice love story about building trust and overcoming prejudice, and it finished with the idea that staying 'in love' was a decision rather than based solely on feelings.
The teen characters did muse some about their faith--about God and how what's in the Bible and in sermons (like forgiveness) worked out in real life. There was no sex (though there was temptation). There was a minor amount of "he cussed" style bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this novel as well-written, clean reading.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt from Chapter One
"Love is like death's cold grip crushing the beats from an innocent heart."
A ripple of muted laughter rolls through the girls around me, and I bite my lip to keep from joining them. Elaine dramatically recites her poem from where she stands at the front of the class, chewing at a hangnail, her knees angled as if she needs to use the bathroom.
"Love is like a decaying tree on a warm spring day. It was born from pain and was fathered by suffering. Once upon a time, there was love and people believed in it, and then loved died or perhaps it relocated to another planet, no one knows, though people still seek it, long for it, act like it's still around..."
I wonder when and how Elaine became so utterly strange. It's painful to watch and to hear the snickers among the other girls sitting in the theater-style seats, their feet tucked carefully beneath matching plaid skirts. "Women & Literature" is a semester class required of all females in our junior year. We meet in the drama classroom--with the stage and the seats--perhaps to subconsciously empower us young women to take the leading role on the stage of our lives. Or at least that's what Ms. Landreth said at the start of this semester.
Part of me wants to take Elaine by the shoulders and shake some sense into her; another part of me wants to stand up and tell the other girls to be quiet and just listen. Elaine adjusts her black glasses, looking out at us as if she still cannot quite focus, despite the thick lenses. Her choppy raven-dyed hair looks like she cut it herself.
"Love had died, like God and Romeo, and not even the birds can find a song to sing."
A text from Katherine pops onto my phone: Need advice about prom.
"Why believe in love, O Women? Oh, why do we want to believe in what cannot be believed in? Love divorced itself from mankind. Move on, hearts."
Elaine finishes her poem and makes a bow, remaining at the front of the class as we offer awkward, halting applause.
Monica leans toward me. "Wow, cheerful. That sounds like something you would say."
"Thanks a lot," I whisper.