Review – Destiny by Cindy Ray Hale

July 2, 2014 Reviews 2 ★★★★

Title:  Destiny
Series: Destiny #1
Author: Cindy Ray Hale
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Pages: 318
Goodreads Rating: 4.17/5 Stars
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
My Content Rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
Summary from Goodreads:  Destiny Clark, a young Mormon girl living in Tennessee, is wildly infatuated with Isaac Robinson, the headmaster’s son at her Baptist high school. When they’re cast together in the school’s production of Les Misérables, Destiny is horrified to find that she has to be publicly humiliated by acting out her true feelings of rejection onstage. 


As their rehearsals begin, Destiny realizes the unimaginable: Isaac has developed deep feelings for her despite their religious differences and the fact that he has a girlfriend. 

But will they be able to find their place amongst the backbiters of their ultra-conservative world?

Weaving around Destiny and Isaac’s alternating viewpoints, Destiny is the first book in a series inspired by the characters of Les Misérables and explores heartbreak, self-discovery, intolerance, and love.

 

I’m a huge fan of Les Mis (the musical – I’m sad to say I haven’t read the book yet), so when I saw this book up for review, I just had to get it.  I was curious how Hale would incorporate characters inspired by the classic. 

The book started out a little shaky for me, but it got a lot better by the end.  Destiny and her brother are the only Mormons in their Baptist school and they are treated with disdain and outright hatred by many people there (especially the adults).  Destiny just keeps her head low and tries not to make waves.  But she has had a long-time crush on Isaac, and when she is cast as Eponine against his Marius in a school production, she finds that the play is mirroring life for her a bit more than is comfortable.

What I loved:
  • Character growth. Like I said, I was a bit nervous at the beginning of this book – really for at least half the book, maybe more.  I just wasn’t sure if I could root for these characters (see my negative point below).  But, in the end Isaac and Destiny won me over.  Destiny is strong in her Mormon faith, and her attraction to Isaac is an issue – she is only supposed to date Mormon boys.  I have to admit that there were times in the book when I wondered if she wouldn’t have just been better off with Preston, the Mormon boy who was infatuated with her, especially since we were privy to Isaac’s inner thoughts and he was more than a little uneasy with Destiny’s faith.  But, throughout the book, Isaac learns to be more open-minded and see Destiny for who she was, not for the details of her religion.  He decides that he needs to learn about the Mormon faith himself and not depend on the prejudices of his father.  By the end of the book, I was on Destiny and Isaac’s side – which was impressive because I didn’t know if I would get there.
  • The play.  As I suspected, I was enamored with the parts of the book that had to do with Les Mis.  The book didn’t mirror the Eponine/Marius/Cosette relationship super closely, but the parallels were definitely there.  And I got to relive memories of many of my favorite songs from the show!
  • Friendship.  I also really enjoyed the friendship between Hannah and Destiny.  They were great fun together and they seemed to share a real bond (though Hannah did occasionally take things a little too far when she was trying to get Isaac and Destiny together, though).
The negatives:
  • Religious fundamentalism.  There was definitely a strong religious message to this book.  As an evangelical Christian, I don’t mind this necessarily, but all of the talk of characters trying to convert each other made me a little uneasy. All of the Baptist characters seemed to worry that Destiny was out to prey on weak Christians and convert them – meanwhile Isaac seemed to think that he needed to convert Destiny back to the Baptist faith.  I was also pretty put off by the extreme hate that a lot of the Baptists showed toward Destiny – very un-Christian in my opinion. I just was never quite sure how to feel about it all.  I did learn more about the Mormon faith, which I found interesting.  And, by the end, the book had moved more toward tolerance and understanding, so it definitely got better.  And, to be fair, this religious intolerance was there for a reason – so we could see growth in the characters.  I was just worried for quite awhile.
I’m looking forward to reading the next installment in this series!  I struggled a little bit with my rating on this one because I wasn’t sure about the book at first, but I ended up landing on 4/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author and YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***

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About the Author

Cindy Ray Hale is a Young Adult author and a book blogger. She lives in a little slice of wooded heaven near Atlanta, Georgia. She spends way too much time following up-and-coming musicians on YouTube and dreams of joining their ranks one day. She’s a bit of a health food nut and can’t live without her daily green smoothies. She tries to stay sane as she juggles writing with four kids, staying active on social media, and keeping up her book blog – Cinnamon Cindy’s Book Blog. In addition to writing and self-publishing two Young Adult Contemporary novels, she has also written articles for “New Era” magazine and The American Preppers Network.

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