Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Premarital sex is about more than hormones. Choices, a novel by Katrina L. Burchett, skillfully entwines the lives of five teen girls as they face this issue in York, Pennsylvania.

Shauntice, the central character of the book, feels trapped in many ways. Her father is an alcoholic and a mean drunk. His frustration explodes through fists against his wife and children. Shauntice trusts God implicitly, but, because of her father's abuse, cannot trust men. When Terry enters her life, her scarred emotions battle her attraction. Soon her relationship with Terry serves as an escape from her painful homelife. Is her faith in God stronger than her need for relief?

Angel may be rich in material things, but the void in her life is tangible. Raised by her grandmother, Angel never knew her father and barely knows her workaholic mother. Even though her best friend, Shauntice, is a committed believer, Angel wants nothing to do with God or church. She's been with the same guy for two years, but the signs (and her friends) suggest Randy's bad news. When another girl enters the picture and Randy becomes more physical, Angel has some choices to make. Is she worth saving or is Randy the best she deserves? To what lengths will she go to keep him?

LaKeeta is a Christian, but now pregnant. Once committed to abstinence, great grades and being a stellar basketball player, she's now not speaking to the baby's father and neither her father nor her best friend, Bridgette, are speaking to her. All she wanted was someone to love her unconditionally, but maybe that Someone was there all along. Now that her life is changed forever, what can she do?

Bridgette is a virgin committed to abstinence and has no problems preaching about it. When her best friend gets pregnant, she feels betrayed and comes off more than a little judgmental -- not just to Lakeeta, but also to Angel and just about everyone else that doesn't exhibit the same passion for God's ways. The path of judgment can prove a lonely road.

Hope leads a very different life from these other girls. Her mother is ultra-controlling and far too over-protective. Hope is faithful to her church and Christian beliefs, but she also feels like a freak, no thanks to her peers who treat her like one. When her father dies in a sudden car accident, Hope blames her mother and finds the strength to rebel against her strict rules. This earns Hope some street cred and a bit of self-esteem, but she may be getting in too deep too fast.

What I Like: This book is very well written. The author has a gift for creating three-dimensional characters and true-to-life dialog. The plot moves at a good pace. I especially like the multi-faceted approach to the topic.

Burchett clearly promotes abstinence, but also acknowledges the pressure teens receive from all sides -- social, physical, emotional, etc. -- and she provides grace in the knowledge that no one is perfect. Readers will walk away knowing that everything comes down to choices. Living right is not just about saying "yes" or "no" to sex. The issue is much bigger than that and encompasses how you treat others based on their choices and how you respond when your choices seem to be stripped from you.

I like that the book boldly relays the consequences of choices and encourages the characters and the readers to consistently seek God's direction when making choices. His definition of right and wrong is the only definition that matters. Scripture is quoted and referenced throughout the text. The Gospel message is fully presented and explained.

What I Dislike: The characters use the word "fornicate" frequently; I struggled to see this as realistic. It seems too adult and sterile for the characters. Perhaps this a cultural or generational distinction, but no one used that word when I attended high school in urban Philadelphia twenty years ago.

Also, curse words are employed a handful of times. I recognize that this effectively builds authenticity in the dialog, but it causes me (a parent) to hesitate in recommending to everyone.

Finally, the ending felt abrupt. Not all of the threads were tied up nicely, which I like, but a few of the threads definitely felt unfinished. I want to know what happened and, as such, hope for a second book.

Overall Rating: Very Good.

Age Appeal: Young Adult

Publisher Info: Kapri Books, 2007; ISBN: 0979390508; Paperback; 328 pages; $9.99

Buy it Now at Amazon.com for $9.99!

Special Info: Parents should gauge age-appropriateness on an individual basis. This book tackles several difficult topics, some of which may be too intense for some teens. Readers encounter the real-life issues of promiscuity, teen pregnancy and motherhood, under-age drinking (and adult drunkenness), verbal abuse, domestic violence and rape. All of this is handled from a profoundly Christian foundation and perspective, but some of the scenes are quite graphic in nature. Parents should also be aware that curse words are employed within the dialog a handful of times.

This book is intended to be the first in a trilogy. At the time of this review, however, no release date has been set for the second book. Learn more or read an excerpt of this title on the author's website.

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