And first up, THE NEXT DOOR BOYS by Jolene B. Perry. I have been meaning to read this book pretty much since the moment it came out. Jolene is a fantastic critiquer I've relied on in the past and her opinion about a lot of things bookish and writish (and probably any other -ish if I thought to ask ...) really matters to me. Take for instance the release of A CONTEMPTIBLE AFFECTION. I knew nothing, nothing about these self-publishing matters, so I went straight to Jolene.
From Jolene's Website: Leigh Tressman has been known as a lot of things – the girl who sings, the girl who sews, Jaron’s little sister, and last year, the girl with cancer. With her body still recovering from the cancer treatments, she’s determined to be independent and convinces her parents to let her follow her overprotective brother, Jaron, to BYU.
With an ever expanding line of young men ready to be in love with her – not to mention physical frustrations, and spiritual dilemmas – Leigh almost misses the opportunity to be with the man who has been quietly falling in love with her since they met. The Next Door Boys proves that even with (or maybe in spite of) independence, love can be found in comfortable, but delightful places.
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.
Check out Jolene's blog.
Buy THE NEXT DOOR BOYS on Amazon.