Friday, November 5, 2010

Review of Angela Morrisons, Taken by Storm and Unbroken Connection

Taken by Storm

Sometimes only love can save you.

Leesie Hunt's Unbreakable Rules: No Kissing (at least not of the French variety)...No Sex (hah! Not even close to happening anyway)...No Dating Outside the Mormon Faith (what would be the point?)...ABSOLUTELY No Falling in Love with the Wrong Boy (would ruin everything).
Leesie thinks she has her whole life planned out: get into the school of her dreams, write her poems, meet the perfect guy, and settle down. Then she meets Michael--a boy whose parents were killed in a diving accident during a terrible storm.
Michael is drowning in tragedy. And all Leesie wants is to save him. With each day, her heart hurts more. Could it be, perfect Leesie is falling from grace? Or is she just falling in love?
But if Leesie gives in to temptation, who is going to save her? From Amazon US

Michael is in Belize with his parents, doing what he loves most . . . diving and trying to pick up girls. He’s in his element, even to the point of pushing his limits, maybe recklessly, but what can you expect from someone who lives to dive?

Ironic that this place he loves is also where he suffers his greatest tragedy in life, one that overwhelms him with guilt.

Leesie . . . the kind of girl who is responsible, a straight arrow, knows exactly what she wants out of life and where she’s going. Her life has been planned out since she was a little girl.

Her plan didn’t include Michael.

As Michael goes through the motions of being a Senior in high school, living with his grandmother and dealing with the Post Traumatic Stress of losing both parents in a hurricane, he meets Leesie.

After going on a field trip together she offers to take him to the closest thing Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has for a beach, even with its forty degree water. Suddenly, Michael decides to free dive and practically scares the life out of her. It’s not a typical start of a relationship, but nevertheless, Leesie and Michael become inseparable.

Told from alternating points of view, including Michael’s dive log and Leesie’s private Chapbook, we are able to feel Michael’s pain over the death of his parents, and agonize with him as he is plagued by nightmares and visions of his loss. Leesie seems to be the only one who can calm the storms he carries inside. Their bond deepens and the closeness they share emotionally creates a challenge for the physical closeness Michael craves. Yet Leesie is determined to keep the relationship chaste, in accordance with her choice and beliefs.

As Michael and Leesie deal with personal struggles as well as physical intimacy issues they disagree on, their relationship is pushed to the limit. What ultimately develops is a true love tuned into their emotions, not turned on by their desires.

I enjoyed Morrison’s writing and was impressed by her style, voice and impeccable research, making sure that each element of the story is believable and real. Descriptions of settings and actions and even beliefs are detailed and thorough making the characters and locations come alive. The plot was heavy and emotional at times yet contained a good balance of humor and wit. Again, Morrison knows her craft and does a fine job of pacing, tension and character development.

While I understand the target audience and the nature of teens, I did feel that Michael had a preoccupation with sex, starting with the very first paragraph of the book and continuing regularly throughout. Even though Leesie stood by her principles, many of the conversations they shared and some of their makeout sessions felt a bit gratuitous for me. Perhaps this is acceptable for the national teen audience, but could be a little much for a conservative, religious audience. If this is a concern, I would say, mom’s read it first, then decide.

The sequel, Unbroken Connection, continues the story of Michael and Leesie, and takes place for the most part, with them separated while Leesie attends Brigham Young University and Michael goes to Thailand.

With their relationship stretched across the world, their differences seem to escalate, forcing them to test the strength of their love. It is during this period of time that they discover that their commitment to each other is stronger than the miles that separate them. But, the fact remains, their relationship cannot move to the next level until one of them changes. She won’t marry him outside her LDS temple, and he won’t join her church so they can.

I don’t want to spoil the end, but the story build to an emotional and powerful climax that will leave readers wanting more. The raw emotions that surface are very real and angst-filled and readers will care even more about Leesie and Michael and what lies ahead for them.


flsongbyrd said...

I just bought both of these books and can't wait to read them. They sound wonderful. Your review of them is great and makes me want to read them even more. Job well done.

Rebecca Talley said...

Great review. I appreciate your honesty, Michele. I always enjoy your reviews. Thanks!

Angela said...

I agree! Thanks, Michele, for your kind words and appreciating what I tried to do.

I second your caution. Mom's should definitely read it first. I've heard from many who've had great discussions with their daughters over it.

And I'd like to invite flsongbyrd and all of your followers to join me over at where I'm posting the third book in Michael and Leesie's journey as I write it.