Book Review: With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo

I have a secret addiction to young adult fiction.  I am lucky to be able to blame my reading choices on my kids for now, but soon I will have to admit I just read these books because I like them.  (I think my mother has this same secret.)  After reading a review of this book in a librarian blog, I decided to check this book out for my girls and myself.  It was a worthwhile read.

Ollie is the daughter of a traveling preacher named Everlasting Love.  Unlike typical representations of itinerant preachers, this books depicts the family and the Reverend as truly following loving Christian values.  Although they are very poor, they are more interested in helping the people they are preaching to than making money.  When they arrive at the town of Binder, Arkansas, Ollie quickly finds a boy in sad need of comfort and help.  Jimmy Koppel’s mother is in the local jail accused of the murder of his father, and most in the community are not interested in helping him.

Ollie offers a listening ear and a helping hand to this sad boy, and her father even offers to stay in the community longer than usual in order to help correct the situation.  As the Love family works together to help the Koppels, they come to appreciate even more the love in their own family.  Although on the back of the book it is billed as a mystery, to me the mystery was very submerged in the rest of the story.  The ideas of family love and justice in this book made this book a winner for me.

I did think there are a few things that could have been improved in this novel.  For one thing, there is some ambiguity about time in this book.  Although the actions and attitudes of the characters would have fit more into the earlier part of the 20th century, but the truck, trailer and other items seem to be more modern.  The Love children might be considered homeschooled, there is no mention of schooling for the other teenagers in this novel.  While it might be summer break, Jimmy is offered the use of a local farm as a way to support his mother — leaving me wondering what age this is written in , when children were not required to attend school.  I also thought the romantic overtures were unnecessary and added little to this story.

One more good thing about this book:  the cover is beautiful.  I often read a book and then return it to the library, but this is definitely a book I will recommend to my girls before returning it.  I recommend it to you, too!  Have you read any good young adult fiction lately?  Leave me a comment.

Update:  Eden finished it and gave it the ultimate stamp of approval “We should buy that book!”  Read it soon!

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