01 September 2014

Destination Unknown by Amy Clipston

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It's senior year, and Whitney Richards is tired of the constant pressures to be perfect. When she gets a D in Calculus, her mother immediately hires a tutor, worried Whitney won't get into the 'right' college – her alma mater – with imperfect grades. Her tutor, Taylor, is a quiet, mysterious boy who is unlike anyone Whitney has met before. But Taylor's rougher upbringing has her mother and friends discouraging any type of relationship.

Tired of having to play a part for everyone else, Whitney quits the cheerleading squad that once defined her social identity, and begins spending more time with Taylor. Her mom and friends worry Whitney is making a huge mistake, and even Taylor begins to show concern for some of her choices. But for the first time, Whitney is in the driver's seat of her life. Will she be able to find her identity – and God's plan for her life – before she throws everything away?

Following Roadside Assistance, Destination Unknown by Amy Clipston tells the story of Whitney Richards’ search for identity, and her plight is entirely relatable. As a high school senior, she faces many commonplace issues – overbearing parents, bad grades, changing friendships, bullying, college choices. Of course, she makes plenty of mistakes while navigating them to determine who she is and what her future holds, but ultimately learns her lessons. The narrative is sweet and comforting and kept me hoping for the best for Whitney.  (I do wish Whitney’s mother would experience more heartfelt change in the end – she drove me absolutely nuts. I couldn’t believe some of her parenting…)

While reading Destination Unknown, the slight annoyance for me was the dialogue. For the most part, the story and its characters are well-written (though a bit predictable). But at times, I didn’t completely believe the characters’ exchanged dialogue, which seemed too scripted and unnatural as verbal responses. Even so, Clipston’s novel is an enjoyable read, even without reading Roadside Assistance, and I think readers looking for a Christian young adult novel should pick it up.

Thanks to Zondervan, I received a copy of Destination Unknown and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

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