Review of Both of Me by Jonathan Friesen


Genre: YA Fiction

Not Recommended.

_225_350_Book.1438.coverThis story is intriguing: Clara is a teenage runaway who is traveling the world to get away from a tragedy in her past. On an airplane she meets Elias, who struggles with an unusual case of Dissociative Identity Disorder. The two accidentally switch backpacks, then become unlikely companions as they each search for healing, identity, and belonging.

I don’t expect Christian fiction to always be spiritually oriented (often the indirect message is more powerful), but I do expect it to be in some way edifying. As much as this story interested me–and would likely catch the attention of readers within the identity transition of young adulthood–the underlying spiritual message was not positive or beneficial. Elias has deep problems that are not appropriately addressed or resolved. Clara receives partial healing, but the Christian element is brought into her life awkwardly and without the necessary depth (actually, the “healing” spirit is more “New Age” than Christian).

The ending solidified my dislike for this book. Despite the difficult themes and attitudes of the characters, I think there was still room for a redemptive message. The circumstances of the ending did not bother me as they were true to the characters; but the overall spirit of the story was uncomfortable for me, as was the absence of God’s truth. The characters’ journeys were not completed in an inspiring or godly manner, rather in the poetic realism that often characterizes “good” secular writing. The writing itself is strong: metaphors and imagery are pulled together, the characters are vivid and likeable. But I would not recommend this to a Christian teen.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blink.