“Book Review: Redeemed”
Reviewed by Chika Anene
A coming of age contemporary novel that highlights the joys and agonies of transitioning from your teenage years into adulthood
Redeemed, the second book in a YA contemporary series by Lindsay Schuster, follows the lives of high-school seniors Kaila, Jenny, Amy, and Stephanie as they prepare for college. Each of them struggles individually with grief, secrets, or psychological trauma from pasts that they are eager to bury and forget.
Kaila, the first character the reader is introduced to, lives with her little sister Karol, her auntie, and her auntie’s partner. Due to Kaila and Karol’s parents and brother passing away in a car crash a few years back, her auntie and partner have stepped in to be both sisters’ guardians.
While Kaila is busy searching for potential colleges, her boyfriend Justin, feeling neglected, starts to display hints of jealousy. She already has enough to deal with, having a rare heart condition and a little sister who struggles to fit in at school. She likes Justin, but he does seem to be adding more struggles than she needs right now.
Amy, on the other hand, has a secret. She feels an inexplicable pull toward the school’s douchebag Derick, and when she starts to experience problems in her relationship with her boyfriend Ricky, who she feels barely has time for her anymore, she soon finds herself in a sticky situation. Once Ricky finds out about her little entanglement with Derick, he is unable to forgive her, leaving her with no boyfriend and occasional taunts from Derick who is eager to remind her of her mistake whenever he gets the opportunity.
Stephanie, dubbed “Ice Queen” by the guys at school, has sworn off men like a plague, until she meets the sweet, compassionate, and caring new guy Aiden. He is nothing like all the other guys who are constantly trying to get in her pants. She’s had a tough past, one she never speaks about, and a mother who is addicted to drugs, so Aiden’s sweetness is a welcome surprise on her path to adulthood.
Jenny is far from proud of her past and feels she has every reason not to be. A few years ago, she fell pregnant and suffered a miscarriage; one she never talks about to anyone, especially not her current boyfriend Conner. But when she starts seeing visions of what her child could have looked like, she again must confront her painful past in order to move forward.
As the reader embarks on a journey with all four of the main characters, they get to witness not just the distress the characters are faced with, but also their growth and maturity as they approach adulthood, like letting go of their insecurities and fears.
The book does make some references to Christianity and, although it’s not heavily emphasized, it is clear that the girls have Christian beliefs and that this has gotten them through their toughest hours. It’s a wholesome Young Adult story with plenty to enjoy.
Schuster’s writing isn’t loaded with flowery prose or complicated words, which makes the book easy for any reader to get through. Schuster draws a great picture of the types of issues that teenagers can run into while they prepare to become full-grown adults—including friendships, faith, and family. Her portrayal of each character is done with great effort and allows the reader to look into the minds of multiple characters, all with individual voices and different issues.
Redeemed is a great book, but there is one thing that I feel the need to mention. It’s small, but it’s there nonetheless. There are never any adults present when fights take place at the school, and I don’t find it particularly believable. Normally, there would be someone there to give the culprits detention, no?
But still, I have no hesitation in recommending this contemporary YA novel to teenagers around the ages of 16 and 17. They’ll have plenty to enjoy and learn from in its pages.
Category: YA Coming of Age
Paperback: 368 pages
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