Be Strong & Curvaceous (All About Us, Book 3) Review
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Occasionally, I have to switch gears and reach for something fresh and clean and optimistic—and I can always find that in a young adult Christian novel by Shelley Adina. She has the knack for taking me back to my first crush and bringing out the breathlessness of the situation. That, to me, is true romance, and no one does it better than Ms. Adina does while sending a positive, non-preachy Christian message that’s aimed toward teenage readers.

In Ms. Adina’s latest, Be Strong & Curvaceous, Carly Aragon doesn’t feel as if she measures up to the standards of her schoolmates at Spencer Academy. While other students can afford the latest fashions and the hottest thing going because of their rich and famous parents, Carly could only get into the academy with a full-ride scholarship. When she gets the opportunity to participate in a fashion design contest, Carly has to find a job to help cover the cost of her material. While Carly is juggling homework, class schedules, a job, and her social life, Lady Lindsay MacPhail is assigned as her roommate. “Mac” has an attitude problem, and she’s also interested in Carly’s biggest crush—Brett Loyola.

Mac wants to be left alone and forget that she’s the daughter of the Earl of Strathcairn. Just because she has everything she wants, it doesn’t mean that her life is good or that she’s particularly happy. Hiding behind an attitude, she tries to keep any of her classmates, especially Carly, from getting too close. But when Mac starts receiving threatening letters from an email stalker, she might just need Carly’s faith to help her get through the threat without getting killed in the process.

Out of all the students at Spencer Academy, I could relate to Carly the most. In high school, I remember trying to keep up with the cool kids and desperately trying to hide the fact that I couldn’t. But Carly is smart and resourceful, and, in the end, that’s what will get you out of a bad situation—not the latest Louis Vuitton purse.

Though Lady Lindsay MacPhail has a bad attitude, Ms. Adina skillfully works in the fact that Mac has more serious problems below the surface, making her likable and leaving the reader wanting things to work out for her. And that’s the mark of fantastic characterization.

With a hint of danger and mystery mixed with a dash of teen romance and Christian faith, Be Strong & Curvaceous is one of the most exciting and adorable young adult novels of its kind. I highly recommend it for teenage girls who are wobbling on the line between faith and popularity. Ms. Adina gets the message across without repeatedly whacking readers over the head with it. Faith can’t be shoved down a non-believer’s throat—Ms. Adina knows this—and that’s why I love reading anything she writes.

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