Thursday, August 22, 2013

ARC REVIEW: CHASING HOPE by Kathryn Cushman

Title: Chasing Hope
Author: Kathryn Cushman
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: September 15, 2013
Genre: Christian Fiction
Reviewed by: Books4Tomorrow
Source: NetGalley
My rating: 3/5

SUMMARY

A talented runner fully committed to Olympic dreams, Sabrina Rice's future was shattered by a devastating diagnosis. One forfeited scholarship and several years later, she has new goals and dreams that have nothing to do with running--something that's become far too painful to think on. 
Until the day she sees Brandy Philip running across the community college campus, easily outpacing security. Sabrina immediately recognizes world-class speed, and it's all the more painful that it belongs to a teenage graffiti artist. When a chance encounter brings the two young women together, Sabrina becomes Brandy's best hope for staying out of juvenile hall. Soon, Sabrina begins to feel an uncomfortable nudge that her new life is just about to be toppled...that God may be calling her to minister to this talented but troubled girl.


REVIEW

While I’m relatively new to Christian fiction, I’ve read more than enough of this genre to know what exactly I want from it, and what the perfect balance should be between preachy and a subtle message. Though Chasing Hope almost tips the scale in the direction of being too preachy, it still manages to hold on to that balance where readers can walk away feeling they’ve gained something positive to take with them from this book, instead of having the author’s beliefs forced on them. It took me a long time – up to about 40% on kindle – before this story got its hooks in me. And even then I was only somewhat intrigued by the story. The biggest no-go for me was the fact that it reads like something written by a twelve-year-old for an English exam, and the only thing seeing me through to the end of the book was the story and its not-so-subtle message of trusting that things in our lives happen for a reason, even when that reason is unknown to us at that time.

I found it hard to connect with Sabrina and Brandy, but if I was compelled to choose between the two, my sympathies would be with Brandy. We don’t learn much about her background other than the fact that her mother is a drug addict, but that served as enough explanation as to why she acts out. Brandy’s character also took some time getting used to, but unlike Sabrina, Brandy changed and developed throughout the story and you can see the difference in her by the end. Sabrina’s character didn’t show any real development. It was more that her decisions changed due to her experiences and the subtle prodding by her mother and grandmother to follow a path down which she wasn’t prepared to go, and that to me doesn’t count as “character” development. By the end of the book I felt that she was still the same self-centered, aloof character she was at the start of the book, and that left Brandy to be the star of the story.

Luckily the romance was low-key and once you get past the swoony falling in love parts, the romance between Koen and Sabrina is quite sweet. The last 30% of the story builds up to a satisfying conclusion, and the book ends on a high note. I liked both Sabrina and Brandy’s grandmothers as well as Sabrina’s mom, and because these characters are so likeable, it just made Sabrina look even more ungrateful and spoiled. I think my severe dislike of her has lots to do with me detesting characters with a woe-is-me attitude, and Sabrina has this in spades.  

Sometimes it happens that a book and a reader just don’t mesh, and sadly this was the case for me with Chasing Hope. I don’t highly recommend this read, but I won’t not-recommend it either. I feel this would make a great book for parents to get for their teenage daughters in the age range of thirteen to sixteen, as this is an inspiring story of hope, encouragement and second chances, and with the writing being utterly simplistic, readers in this age group will easily be able to connect with these characters.


This review forms part of my three-month participation in the NetGalley Knockout Challenge for 2013.

READ more REVIEWS

Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman has 5 reviews on Goodreads. Read it here.

PURCHASE LINKS


ABOUT the AUTHOR

Author Kathryn "Katie" Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy.

She is the author of five novels, including Leaving Yesterday and A Promise to Remember, which were both finalists for the Carol Award in Women's Fiction.

She is also the co-author of Angel Song with Sheila Walsh.

Kathryn and her family currently live in Santa Barbara, California.

AUTHOR LINKS

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