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The Next Door Boys Paperback – October 8, 2011
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Pierced by the Sun
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Top Customer Reviews
It did. I really, really liked it.
The main character, Leigh, is a nineteen year old survivor of ovarian cancer that has left her family frightened and overprotective, while making Leigh determined to get back to normal life as soon as possible. For Leigh,normal life includes attending Brigham Young University and practicing her faith -- she is a devout Mormon.
I found Leigh an appealing character, one who I wanted to follow through a 287 page book. Her struggles with illness were very poignant and realistic to me. I have some experience with illness myself and very much related to her wish to be treated like everyone else, her efforts to maintain a normal schedule despite her exhaustion and weakness, her determination to move forward and claim her future.
I was also fascinated by the peek offered into the world of practicing Mormons -- I would have liked more of that in the book, in fact. Leigh embraces her faith as part of her daily life, and I enjoyed reading about it.
Even post-chemotherapy,Leigh is a bit of a femme fatale. Without trying or even wanting to, she attracts men like bees to honey. Accordingly, there's a love triangle of sorts, which also makes for a fun read.
A very nice book that I enjoyed the whole way through. Highly recommeded!
Leigh struggles with the same things we all did at that age: finding our own self, transitioning from child to adult, learning that as much as we want to stand on our own, it's okay to need others. But she does it with the perspective of someone who has touched death, giving this book a sense of depth unlike so many other young adult books I've read.
Jolene does a fabulous job with characters. They feel entirely real and fully dimensional... there's not a flat cardboard character in this book, which is chock full of characters. especially Leigh, who wants her independence and normal life back so much that she puts her own health in peril. There are a lot of nice people in this book, which is, frankly, refreshing. The fact is, nice people can add complexities to a situation as well, and Jolene's cast of characters bring their own well-intentioned but nevertheless frustrating roadblocks to Leigh's desire for a normal life. Besides her own housemates, Leigh has to contend with the "next door boys": her watchful older brother, a handful of boys with crushes on her, and a tattoo-laden guy with a past and the secrets that go with it.
I liked that faith was also an integral part of Leigh's story. I think faith is important to a lot more people than books tend to show, and Jolene manages to make Leigh's faith so seamlessly a part of this story that it doesn't feel like an added element, but rather one the story could never have been written without.Read more ›
What first attracted me to "The Next Door Boys" was both the book's cover and synopsis. They left me intrigued.
But while I'd love to recommend this book to a number of people, I can't. It's simply too Mormon-centric to appeal to a large group of readers. Jolene writes with a Mormon audience in mind, using jargon and relating experiences that leave readers of other faiths in the dark. It's unfortunate, because the basic story is sound and Leigh is a relatable character. By adding a few explanations and minor tweaks, Jolene could have had much more marketable and overall enjoyable book.
Genre: LDS Romance
Length: 272 pages
Rating: **** (Really liked it).
The Pros: I was once in a book club with a woman who called most LDS literature "fluff." I wish I had known about books like THE NEXT DOOR BOYS (or OF GRACE AND CHOCOLATE and NOT MY TYPE) back then. Not fluff. Leigh deals with issues. Leigh uses the gospel. Sometimes Leigh does good dealing with issues. Sometimes Leigh does not. THE NEXT DOOR BOYS has depth and I like that depth a lot. Leigh has a great supporting cast of characters from her protective brother Jaron right down to her love interests Brian and Noah.
The Cons: So, I'm being picky about this one, but Leigh had as sort of selfish attitude when it came to the concern her family felt for her. She was stubborn about the doctor's advice and kept refusing to listen to her parents and brother even when the ill-effects of her choices were blatantly obvious. It especially stands about because all the characters in the book praise Leigh for her kindness and thoughtfulness, so it didn't seem to jive for me. BUT, Leigh does learn and realize how selfish she's been in the end, so I guess I can forgive her that. Two other picks: one, Leigh has a cliche quality that pops up a lot in many of these genres in that all the boys are attracted to her and she can't figure out why; and two, the quick scene changing sometimes caught me off guard.
Disclaimer: Leigh deals with pretty emotional situations, but I'd have no problem putting this book into a teenager's hands.
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