Title: Heather: Circle of Friends, Book 5
Author:  L. Diane Wolfe
Release date:  March 16, 2010
Publisher:  Dancing Lemur Press
Pages:  282
Genre:  Young adult fiction, inspirational fiction
Source:  Author

Twenty-six-year-old Heather Jennings has her whole life ahead of her:  she just finished up her master’s degree at Duke University, and she’s landed an excellent job coaching college basketball – her dream career.  But her father’s cancer puts a wrench in her life goals, and she soon finds herself spending most of her time with her family, both saddened by the possible loss of her father and annoyed at the total incompetence of her younger sister Dawn.  A chance encounter with the older brother of a childhood friend awakens feelings in Heather she didn’t know she was capable of at this stage in her life.  But Heather is well aware that Mark may only complicate her life, and she must figure out if this relationship is going to fizzle as quickly as it began, or if it might actually be the real deal.

I’m not sure what made me agree to review this book; looking back on it, I’m surprised I didn’t turn it down since it’s really different from my usual fare.  But either way, I agreed to it, I finally got the chance to read it over this past week, and to  put it mildly: my feelings on the novel are very mixed.

Honestly, there were a lot of aspects to this novel I disliked.  The writing was… clunky.  I don’t find it necessary to highlight specific examples, but there was just too much awkwardness in the text.  Also there was a lot of telling and not enough showing.  This always bugs me in books – I want to figure out for myself what kind of personalities the characters have, what feelings they’re experiencing, based on the situation and what I’ve learned about them so far – I don’t like everything spelled out for me all of the time.  And I know that I reviewed an ARC, but there were many, many mistakes and even though I know I did not read the final copy, I was very distracted by that.

Also, I did not like Heather, the main character, one bit.  She was selfish and seemed to believe that the world revolved around her.  She was impatient and mean to her younger sister.  She behaved irrationally on more than one occasion over the course of her relationship with Mark.  She really had few redeeming qualities, and I’m sure she was written that way on purpose, but she made it very difficult for me to care about her life.

All that being said, I did enjoy the experience of reading this novel.  Even though I disliked Heather, I somehow wanted to keep reading in order to find out what would happen to her.  And I liked Mark, overall – he was mostly a gentleman, a caring and sweet person who usually went out of his way for Heather (even when she didn’t really deserve it).  The book has a feel-good vibe going on – it is somewhat inspirational.  And I don’t know if it would be considered Christian fiction, but there are definitely some Christian themes running through the book, especially towards the end.

Although there were several aspects of this novel that didn’t sit well with me, overall I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it for readers who enjoy a sweet story with a happy ending.