Review: Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

Have a Little Faith In Me by Sonia Hartl

Have a Little Faith in Me
Sonia Hartl
Page Street Kids
Published September 3, 2019

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads

About Have a Little Faith in Me

“Saved!” meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that takes a meaningful look at consent and what it means to give it.

When CeCe’s born-again ex-boyfriend dumps her after they have sex, she follows him to Jesus camp in order to win him back. Problem: She knows nothing about Jesus. But her best friend Paul does. He accompanies CeCe to camp, and the plan—God’s or CeCe’s—goes immediately awry when her ex shows up with a new girlfriend, a True Believer at that.

Scrambling to save face, CeCe ropes Paul into faking a relationship. But as deceptions stack up, she questions whether her ex is really the nice guy he seemed. And what about her strange new feelings for Paul—is this love, lust, or an illusion born of heartbreak? To figure it out, she’ll have to confront the reasons she chased her ex to camp in the first place, including the truth about the night she lost her virginity.

Have a Little Faith In Me on Goodreads

My Review

I love the voice in HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME. CeCe is perky and impulsive and lots of fun. The plot doesn’t really pretend to have big secrets– it’s a rom com, and all that goes with that– but it still kept me turning pages because I couldn’t wait to see what CeCe would get up to next.

It always feels a little dicey to me to read about Christian characters from the perspective of someone who feels like an outsider or belittles faith. While there are definitely some moments where Christian faith is treated like a joke or scam, for the most part, I feel like this book shows that some Christians are genuine, kind, loving people. One of CeCe’s conclusions, though, is that Christians (even the “good”, non-judgmental ones) use their beliefs to justify whatever they want to do. While she’s certainly not wrong about people doing that at times, it was kind of a blanket statement that didn’t get challenged even when she discovered she liked some of the other campers and believed them to be good people.

I also struggled with the idea in the story that modesty is about shame. This comes predominantly from one of the camp counselors who clearly doesn’t like CeCe and makes her wear a big ugly cover-up over her bikini bathing suit. CeCe’s takeaway from this and from a workshop taught by that counselor is that girls need to cover their bodies because boys can’t handle themselves if they see a bit of skin, and girls are responsible for any bad actions the boys take as a result of seeing female bodies.

While I think challenging that idea (that girls are responsible for bad choices boys make) is super important, what I felt was missing was any other explanation of modesty or any positive context for it. (Treating one’s body like it’s special and preserving privacy from a place of confidence, for example.) Instead, I felt like the story comes across with this message that modesty and shame are the same thing, and the only reasonable response is to bare it all to prove that there’s no reason to be ashamed.

Again, I believe it’s important to challenge any idea that makes girls responsible for someone else’s bad behavior. I just felt like the story didn’t leave room for any other conclusion besides making the choice to show off your body as much as possible, and I feel like that kind of shames girls who aren’t comfortable doing that.

Another big theme in the story is consent. I love that this topic is on the table and being explored in YA books so much. It’s super important and sometimes confusing. Showing examples of good consent is a great way to teach about the topic.

I liked that HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME shows both a good example of asking for consent and bad example of it. We see how CeCe feels in both situations, and we can understand why. One partner makes her feel valued and cared for, and the other partner makes her feel used and dirty. I thought it was a little weird that it’s a boy who’s educating CeCe about consent. Not that boys can’t be or shouldn’t be in the know on consent. I guess it just struck me as a little odd in a book that focuses so much on female empowerment that a boy is the one who shows her the way.

The relationships CeCe forms with her cabin mates were great. She didn’t expect to find the deep camaraderie and support from Christian girls that she found. Both learned things from the other. And it created a broader perspective on what it means to be a practicing Christian by showing that not everyone is the same.

On the theme of sexual exploration and encounters, some readers may find that there’s just too much explicit sexual content here for them to read comfortably. Like the issue of modesty, the story takes a pretty narrow position on sex. The message is that everyone is doing it or very soon will be, so explicit instruction is a must.

While I think it’s important for teens to have real facts and information about sex and to have safe spaces where they can ask questions, I felt like the story didn’t leave room for kids who aren’t ready or who would find themselves really uncomfortable discussing explicit things about sex in a crowd.

I guess all that to say that I had kind of mixed feelings about HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME. On the one hand, I enjoyed a lot of the adventure of the story and the humor and voice. And I’m a total sucker for the best-friend-to-boyfriend type of story, so I was pretty much hooked from the outset.

I do wish that there was better representation of alternative perspectives on modesty and sex, but I loved that the story explores and fosters conversations about consent and how important it is.

Have a Little Faith In Me on Amazon

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 17 up.

Representation
CeCe and Paul are both white/straight. They attend a summer camp with a lot of Christian kids. One minor character tells CeCe that she’s interested in both girls and boys.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently. Crude language used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. References to sex. Explicit descriptions of sex and one scene explicitly showing sex.

Spiritual Content
CeCe isn’t a Christian and Paul no longer has Christian beliefs, but both attend a Christian summer camp and pretend to share faith with the other campers. Some of the other campers show love and acceptance even when it becomes obvious that CeCe and Paul don’t share their beliefs, but others are judgmental and fearful.

Violent Content
None.

Drug Content
None.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog. I received a free copy of HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey Giard

I'm a mama, reader, and writer. Passionate about peppermint (it's not just for Christmas, okay?!), fly fishing, and movie night.

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