Title: Have a Little Faith in Me
Author: Sonia Hartl
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
What a pleasantly surprising rom-com with a feminist, sex-positive twist!
Have a Little Faith in Me is a blast from cover to cover. When CeCe follows her ex-boyfriend to a religious summer camp in a misguided attempt to win him back, she quickly finds herself in over her head in an environment that seems quick to paint her as a sinner. But with the help of her best friend and some surprising allies at the camp itself, she learns some important lessons about love, about consent, and about her own self-worth.
Hartl’s debut novel tackles heavy issues through the lens of a teenage girl who’s quick to cover her own vulnerability with acerbic humor. CeCe’s sassy personality took me aback in the first several pages, but once you buckle up to enjoy the ride, you learn that there’s so much more to her than the façade she puts on for everyone outside her inner circle. It’s really a joy to see her peel back the layers as summer at “Jesus camp” turns out to be more trying than she had expected.
The characters really steal the show here, and one of my favorite relationships in the story is CeCe and Paul’s. They play off one another wonderfully. I’m a sucker for a good fake dating trope, and this one’s filled with plenty of cliche yet heartwarming moments. But beyond their chemistry is the wonderful contrast of their healthy relationship, rooted in years of trust and friendship, against the toxicity of CeCe’s relationship with Ethan. Paul is everything a best friend should be, patiently and stubbornly helping CeCe open her eyes to the truths that she doesn’t want to see.
I also absolutely loved the scenes with CeCe and her cabinmates. With internalized stereotypes on both sides of the table, there are certainly hurdles to overcome, but the gang hits it off immediately. The candid vulnerabilities and fierce loyalties shared in Cabin 8 and eventually spread throughout all of the girls at camp had me rooting for them every step of the way.
Admittedly, the motivation behind the plot is a little out there, and I had a couple of misgivings with the pacing of the ending, but that didn’t keep me from thoroughly enjoying Have a Little Faith in Me. All in all, it was a breeze to read, and I highly recommend it. I absolutely applaud this important and often overlooked take on consent, and I’m so glad to see more and more of these unapologetically feminist and sex-positive young adult novels hitting the shelves. Thank you, Sonia Hartl, for adding CeCe’s unforgettable voice to the movement.
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About the Author
Sonia Hartl is a YA author who calls Michigan home, even though she’s lived in several different states. Her debut novel, Have a Little Faith in Me is forthcoming from Page Street Publishing. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s enjoying pub trivia, marathoning Disney movies, or taking a walk outside in the fall. She’s a member of SCBWI and the communications director for Pitch Wars. She has been published in The Writers Post Journal and Boston Literary Magazine. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two daughters.
Check out the full tour schedule for Have a Little Faith in Me here.
Warm thanks to Page Street Publishing and the Fantastic Flying Book Club for providing me with a finished copy in exchange for an honest review.