When CeCe’s born-again ex-boyfriend dumps her after they have sex, she follows him to Jesus camp in order to win him back. Problem: She knows nothing about Jesus. But her best friend Paul does. He accompanies CeCe to camp, and the plan—God’s or CeCe’s—goes immediately awry when her ex shows up with a new girlfriend, a True Believer at that.
Scrambling to save face, CeCe ropes Paul into faking a relationship. But as deceptions stack up, she questions whether her ex is really the nice guy he seemed. And what about her strange new feelings for Paul—is this love, lust, or an illusion born of heartbreak? To figure it out, she’ll have to confront the reasons she chased her ex to camp in the first place, including the truth about the night she lost her virginity.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
I think almost every YA contemporary fan craves a book set at camp during the summer. Sonia Hartl’s puts such a unique spin on the YA summer camp setting with Have a Little Faith in Me. In Have a Little Faith in Me, when her born-again boyfriend breaks up with her after they have sex, CeCe decides to follow him to Christian summer camp to win him back. Problem? CeCe knows nothing about Jesus or Christianity, making her best friend Paul go along with her. When CeCe gets to camp, she discovers that there’s a lot more for her untangle about her relationship with Ethan than she thought. She also soon finds out that her fellow female campers and cabin mates could use some advice when it comes to relationships and sexuality.
Although there is seriousness surrounding sex and faith, Have a Little Faith in Me was such a funny read. A lot of its humor came from CeCe and Paul. Their friendship screamed instant chemistry from the get-go. I loved all of their ‘that would make for a great band name’ jokes and stories. Everyone knows that I love a well-executed fake-dating trope, and Paul and CeCe’s fake relationship totally sold in Have a Little Faith in Me. I also loved how their fake relationship and budding feelings for one another didn’t take the entirety of the novel.
Paul and CeCe attend Camp Three SixTeen, a Christian summer camp. I really love YA books that explore religion or characters’ religious identities. CeCe confronts a lot of the stereotypes associated with Christians, especially surrounding abstinence and not having sex before marriage. Although CeCe never expected to, she really bonds with her three cabin mates. Her relationships with Mandy, Sarina, and Astrid were such great examples of female friendship in YA. the three girls didn’t let their religious belief influence their perception of CeCe (and vice versa). The story really moves away from CeCe trying to win Ethan back to developing her relationships with these girls and Paul – while also trying to bring some sex ed into camp based on her not-at-all-great first time having sex.
I’ve read a lot of great YA books over the past 2 years with such great depictions of and conversations surrounding sex, but Have a Little Faith in Me is such a refreshing take. CeCe leads so many monologues and conversations with her cabin mates about what consent actually means – it was honestly better than the consent conversation I had in my high school sex ed class. CeCe and her friends aren’t afraid to ask each other questions about sex and have such great discussions- and yes, some funny moments deciding which fruit or vegetable would be best to demonstrate how to put a condom on. There were also some very serious moments surrounding CeCe’s reflections on having sex with Ethan, and how her level of comfort and consent were definitely two issues there.
Overall, Have a Little Faith in Me was such a well-done book about faith, sexuality, and relationships. I think many readers look for light-heartedness in their summery YA reads, but Have a Little Faith in Me is the perfect blend of important conversations with funny and cute moments. I highly recommend checking this one out this summer, and I look forward to Sonia Hartl’s Fall 2020 release, Not Your #Lovestory.
Have you read Have a Little Faith in Me? What are your favorite books set at summer camp? Share in the comments!