Heather Buchta’s debut novel, Beyond the Break, focuses on a girl who grapples being a modern teenager with her faith. This young adult contemporary deals with the tough questions like what it means to fall in love and how to be a good Christian while doing so.
Manhattan Beach native Lovette has two rules in life. One: no surfing. Not after her brother's accident. Two: absolutely, no dating. And going into her junior year of high school, she's pretty happy with that arrangement. She has friends, her church youth group, and God to fall back on when things get dicey. But after Jake Evans walks into her life, following these two simple rules gets a lot more complicated. Jake is the boy from Lovette's childhood who grew up. Handsome and sweet, he unlocks the part of Lovette that wants nothing more than to surf the waves again. And as their relationship grows, she begins to question what it means to be faithful: to her family, to God, but mostly, to herself.
Fans of YA will definitely enjoy reading Lovette’s story; however, I don't think that this book is for everyone. There is a lot of talk of Jesus, Christianity, and what it means to be a person of faith. All of this can be tough to talk about, yet I think Buchta does an excellent job of trying to make the story relatable to a 2020 audience. The beginning can seem a bit too preach-y, but I think it just reflects how naive and strict in her beliefs Lovette is at that point in the novel. Throughout the story, she slowly learns that not everything is black and white and she learns to mesh her faith and her desires to create a new lifestyle and way of thinking.
The way Lovette struggles with her faith while trying to navigate her relationship with Jake is relatable to anyone who is taught to believe one thing, yet sees a majority of others doing the opposite. However, the way the two try to communicate with one another and express their feelings makes you root for Jake and Lovette. As a reader, you want to see them overcome their past struggles, find comfort in one another, and become better people in the process.
Dealing with issues like peer pressure and self reflection, this novel is a great YA book to add to your summer reading list. If you’re not comfortable with discussions about Christianity and faith, then you might want to pass on this book; however, I found that Buchta did a great job of showcasing the struggles that certain teens of faith deal with in modern society.
*I received an ARC from Penguin Teen in exchange for my honest opinion.
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