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Beyond the Break

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For fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han, Beyond the Break is a funny and gorgeous debut about a girl experiencing her first love. Well, second, if you count her faith... and that's where things may get complicated. Manhattan Beach native Lovette has two rules in life. One: no surfing. Not after her brother's accident. Two: absolutely, no dating. And going into her junior yea For fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han, Beyond the Break is a funny and gorgeous debut about a girl experiencing her first love. Well, second, if you count her faith... and that's where things may get complicated. Manhattan Beach native Lovette has two rules in life. One: no surfing. Not after her brother's accident. Two: absolutely, no dating. And going into her junior year of high school, she's pretty happy with that arrangement. She has friends, her church youth group, and God to fall back on when things get dicey. But after Jake Evans walks into her life, following these two simple rules gets a lot more complicated. Jake is the boy from Lovette's childhood who grew up. Handsome and sweet, he unlocks the part of Lovette that wants nothing more than to surf the waves again. And as their relationship grows, she begins to question what it means to be faithful: to her family, to God, but mostly, to herself. Told with humor and heart, Heather Buchta delivers a sparkling debut that asks the question: Can you fall in love, be a teenager, and also be a good Christian?


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For fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han, Beyond the Break is a funny and gorgeous debut about a girl experiencing her first love. Well, second, if you count her faith... and that's where things may get complicated. Manhattan Beach native Lovette has two rules in life. One: no surfing. Not after her brother's accident. Two: absolutely, no dating. And going into her junior yea For fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han, Beyond the Break is a funny and gorgeous debut about a girl experiencing her first love. Well, second, if you count her faith... and that's where things may get complicated. Manhattan Beach native Lovette has two rules in life. One: no surfing. Not after her brother's accident. Two: absolutely, no dating. And going into her junior year of high school, she's pretty happy with that arrangement. She has friends, her church youth group, and God to fall back on when things get dicey. But after Jake Evans walks into her life, following these two simple rules gets a lot more complicated. Jake is the boy from Lovette's childhood who grew up. Handsome and sweet, he unlocks the part of Lovette that wants nothing more than to surf the waves again. And as their relationship grows, she begins to question what it means to be faithful: to her family, to God, but mostly, to herself. Told with humor and heart, Heather Buchta delivers a sparkling debut that asks the question: Can you fall in love, be a teenager, and also be a good Christian?

30 review for Beyond the Break

  1. 4 out of 5

    Angela Staudt

    Thank you Penguin Teen and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. “The windows are down, the ocean air tangling my hair, music blasting, and I’m sitting next to Jake Evans, who keeps smiling at me with that dimple that makes the world better.” Our main character Lovette is not only relatable, but she brought me back to when I was in high school and the ups and down. Lovette signed a purity pledge when she was 12, she had decided she was not even going to kiss a boy until her weddi Thank you Penguin Teen and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. “The windows are down, the ocean air tangling my hair, music blasting, and I’m sitting next to Jake Evans, who keeps smiling at me with that dimple that makes the world better.” Our main character Lovette is not only relatable, but she brought me back to when I was in high school and the ups and down. Lovette signed a purity pledge when she was 12, she had decided she was not even going to kiss a boy until her wedding day. Now that she is a teenager and a childhood friend is back in her life, she is second guessing a lot in her life. One of those things is dating a boy, becoming friends with Jake Evans is bringing up a lot of feelings. I loved how this was about her faith and was very realistic. She would talk to God like He was right there, she questioned God, she got angry at God, but she knew He was in control and loved her unconditionally. Even when she made mistakes, she knew God was on her side. The author wove Christianity throughout this book, without it overpowering the whole book. Another thing I loved was how cheesy and cringy this book was, I am serious this takes you back to your high school days if you are no longer a teenager. If you are in high school, I think you will be able to relate. Lovette and her friends had me laughing, but also cheering on their friendship. The friendship’s that take place in this book were fabulous and the characters were very developed. I want a group of friends like Lovette has. While this was quite cheesy especially with the romance department it was really cute. I loved the slow burn romance and really just how adorable it was. I really enjoyed the family aspect and seeing the main characters struggle with her parents and brother, but the love she had for them as well. I can totally relate to not wanting to disappoint your family, but you want to do what you love. The only thing that irked me just a little was the fast ending. I wanted a longer ending with not such an open ending. Not saying some things weren’t wrapped up, but it felt fast and could have been slowed down. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book, it was a really fast read. I wanted to stay in this world because it was just really charming and made me happy. Beyond the Break was a wonderful coming of age story that had family, faith, romance, and friendships.

  2. 4 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Louise Nice Beyond the Break is a heartfelt coming-of-age story, that centers around faith, school, and surfing. This book is perfect for those who are interested in young adult contemporary that is a little cheesy, but also explores faith, highschool, and surfing in a lighthearted, fluffy manner that just feels good to read! I’d also recommend it to those who want something like Jenny Han’s books, but a little more sportier. Read the FULL REVIEW o Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Louise Nice Beyond the Break is a heartfelt coming-of-age story, that centers around faith, school, and surfing. This book is perfect for those who are interested in young adult contemporary that is a little cheesy, but also explores faith, highschool, and surfing in a lighthearted, fluffy manner that just feels good to read! I’d also recommend it to those who want something like Jenny Han’s books, but a little more sportier. Read the FULL REVIEW on The Nerd Daily!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Anna Warde

    I was able to get my hands on an advance copy of this book and I’m so glad I did. I am not actually a youth. But this book was able to completely transport me back to those awkward, emotional, fun years, without being too cringy or dramatic. I love the voice of the main character and her quirky friends. The author was so descriptive about surfing I almost feel like I could surf now....almost. As a Christian I appreciated how REAL the author describes Lovett’s faith. She talks to God and question I was able to get my hands on an advance copy of this book and I’m so glad I did. I am not actually a youth. But this book was able to completely transport me back to those awkward, emotional, fun years, without being too cringy or dramatic. I love the voice of the main character and her quirky friends. The author was so descriptive about surfing I almost feel like I could surf now....almost. As a Christian I appreciated how REAL the author describes Lovett’s faith. She talks to God and questions him, thanks Him and gets angry with Him. Like reality. I have a ton of favorite moments in this book. Lots of funny scenes and sincere heartfelt conversations that honestly left me wanting more. If they decide to do a sequel, I’m in!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Josie Milewski

    I was given an advanced copy of the book and absolutely loved it! The main character is so likeable and relatable. I loved how Christianity was woven throughout the book without being awkward or preach-y. Lovette clearly has a strong faith. Being a Christian young adult as well, I really appreciated how realistic her thoughts and experiences were. The first chapter had me laughing right away and I wasn't able to put the book down. I spent the rest of my afternoon reading! All the characters were I was given an advanced copy of the book and absolutely loved it! The main character is so likeable and relatable. I loved how Christianity was woven throughout the book without being awkward or preach-y. Lovette clearly has a strong faith. Being a Christian young adult as well, I really appreciated how realistic her thoughts and experiences were. The first chapter had me laughing right away and I wasn't able to put the book down. I spent the rest of my afternoon reading! All the characters were so well thought-out and I loved the storyline between Jake and Lovette. I highly recommend the book! I loved it as much at 21 as I am sure I would've as a teenager.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shelby

    *Thanks to the publisher providing me with an ARC to review Beyond the Break was an incredible story about first love, faith, and family expectations. I had a great time reading this book and really related to the main character in particular. She was so relatable and had a excellent way of telling the story. I thought the Christianity element was woven in so well. Those with or without the faith can read and relate to this book in some way. Lovette’s faith was a major element in the story but th *Thanks to the publisher providing me with an ARC to review Beyond the Break was an incredible story about first love, faith, and family expectations. I had a great time reading this book and really related to the main character in particular. She was so relatable and had a excellent way of telling the story. I thought the Christianity element was woven in so well. Those with or without the faith can read and relate to this book in some way. Lovette’s faith was a major element in the story but the book or author didn’t push the reader into the religion and wasn’t too forceful with it. This book also took on first love, which was done so well. The relationship built between Jake and Lovette was realistic and honestly so much fun to read. I loved the family dynamic as well. Lovette really struggled with some decisions because of her parents, and the author did a great job with this. I also loved the surfing element! It was lots of fun and such an interesting sport to read about, as it isn’t shown in books much. I would totally recommend this book!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tiffanie Cade

    My 14 yr old daughter loved this book. She would read for a while then come to me and tell me all about it. I feel like I read it too! I will definitely be on the lookout for the next book from Heather Buchta.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lesley Downie

    Heather Buchta's ability as a writer is undeniable, and I'm lucky to have received an advance copy of her debut novel, Beyond the Break. Through the voice and eyes of main character, Lovette, Ms. Buchta captures the angst and moral dilemmas of the high school experience in a meaningful way─especially family and friendship drama and falling in love for the first time. Though these struggles are not unique, the artful prose makes Lovette's story uniquely her own as we learn how her passion for sur Heather Buchta's ability as a writer is undeniable, and I'm lucky to have received an advance copy of her debut novel, Beyond the Break. Through the voice and eyes of main character, Lovette, Ms. Buchta captures the angst and moral dilemmas of the high school experience in a meaningful way─especially family and friendship drama and falling in love for the first time. Though these struggles are not unique, the artful prose makes Lovette's story uniquely her own as we learn how her passion for surfing is also a metaphor for her life. As a reader you're rooting for her as she tries to do what's right for her, within the faith she loves and respects.

  8. 5 out of 5

    The Borrowed Book

    ★★★★ This was a fun coming-of-age story. Also definitely for a younger reader, but even if you're not its very enjoyable. (I can say that because I am not a "younger" reader. But I'm not old either, so don't get any ideas) The author does an acceptably wonderful job of detailing every inch of the book. She paints a very clear picture, from the setting to to each character. The plot wasn't bad, very cute. (remember younger reader) The typical high school girl, Lovette, who has her faith, her prio ★★★★ This was a fun coming-of-age story. Also definitely for a younger reader, but even if you're not its very enjoyable. (I can say that because I am not a "younger" reader. But I'm not old either, so don't get any ideas) The author does an acceptably wonderful job of detailing every inch of the book. She paints a very clear picture, from the setting to to each character. The plot wasn't bad, very cute. (remember younger reader) The typical high school girl, Lovette, who has her faith, her priorities but at the same time is trying becomes conflicted with those things as she grows, and as several different challenges are thrown at her. If I am being honest she did annoy me a little at first. She just seemed to sure about herself and so set in her ways that she comes off as that "I'm always right, and you're never right" kind of vibe. But that does change, and as you read more, you begin to understand her character more. Also, this book does have a heavy focus on Christianity, but if you're not a religious person, or you're not Christian, dont let that scare you. I'm not Christian, and I was a little hesitant thinking this book would use the storyline as an opportunity to sort of force that belief onto the reader, well it doesn't. Not at all. Yes, there are a lot of Christian references, but that's part of Lovette's character and her background. It is not a book about Christianity. Oh did I mention this book has a lot of beach and surfing? I dont know how I missed that because thats also a HUGE factor in Lovette's story. This book made me want to go to the beach. Especially after how detailed the author writes. I can already feel sand on my toes! Overall, really sweet, really cute read. There was no "thrill" factor that was having me hustle from page after page. This was more of an easy chill back vibe reading on the boat kind of book. Which is where I read it, on my boat, and it was the better setting.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Samiyah13

    I really want to read this book. I read the summary, and it sounds amazing!!!!!!!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Can't wait to get my hands on this touching story, written by such an upcoming talent.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tim Burke

    I love this book. Why? First, it's the kind of book you want to buy several copies of so you can lend them out to the people you care about; they need to read it and think about the ideas it explores. There's so much going on in this novel on so many levels—it's fun, funny, satiric at times, thought-provoking, heart-wrenching. If you're a parent, you want to read this WITH your teenage daughter or son. Tons to think about and discuss, parents! Yes, the main character is a girl, but this story I love this book. Why? First, it's the kind of book you want to buy several copies of so you can lend them out to the people you care about; they need to read it and think about the ideas it explores. There's so much going on in this novel on so many levels—it's fun, funny, satiric at times, thought-provoking, heart-wrenching. If you're a parent, you want to read this WITH your teenage daughter or son. Tons to think about and discuss, parents! Yes, the main character is a girl, but this story is as much for boys as it is for girls. Since it is a Young Adult novel, the main character wrestles with sex and sexual attraction and losing her virginity and the rightness or wrongness of all she feels. And if you have a teenage son or daughter, good luck skirting that topic. Teens think about it before they remember to suck air into their lungs, before they place right foot in front of left, before they check to see if there's a piece of spinach in their teeth. And Buchta captures that marvelous, special, wondrous feeling of having an undeniable attraction for another. I'm officially in geezer territory, yet she somehow managed to remind me of that time and that feeling. She's an extraordinarily adept writer. I've never surfed in my life, and yet after reading this friggin novel, I want to surf. How does she manage to do that? She captures a nighttime scene when the main character and her crush are out on the water with surfboards that have LED's. It's a magical, poetical scene, and I'm there thanks to her writing. While Buchta manages to raise thought-provoking issues, Buchta handles the whole subject of faith masterfully. The main character is committed in her faith as a Christian, sure, but Buchta lampoons other characters who wear their Christianity as a badge; they talk the talk but don't really walk the walk. She makes her point with a light touch and never comes across as mocking genuine faith. I love this complexity. The main character never takes herself too seriously, and there are a lot of very funny moments when the main character makes fun of herself. The novel plays with common themes. While the teen usually scoffs at religion or faith or going to church and the parents are the earnest characters striving to make the teen see the value in the church life, BEYOND THE BREAK turns this on its head. The teen is the devout one and the parents don't "get it." Buchta also threads irony beautifully into the novel. The parents think they understand what she is really going through, but they don't, and the things they say are at times amusing and heart-breaking. Finally, this novel is just darn fun and funny. It's not heavy or preachy or depressing. I can't recommend this novel enough! And I can't wait for the second novel from this incredibly talented writer.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Fierymermaidbooks

    What an amazing book😍 I really loved this one! This story focuses on Lovette, a strong Christian teenager who secretly loves the oceans even though she is banned from it. Lovette has sworn off romance until marriage, but what happens when Jake appears and suddenly she finds herself wanting to be his girlfriend? I absolutely love the internal struggle that Lovette faces in deciding what is right and wrong for her and her faith. I love how the author makes you feel like you are back in high school What an amazing book😍 I really loved this one! This story focuses on Lovette, a strong Christian teenager who secretly loves the oceans even though she is banned from it. Lovette has sworn off romance until marriage, but what happens when Jake appears and suddenly she finds herself wanting to be his girlfriend? I absolutely love the internal struggle that Lovette faces in deciding what is right and wrong for her and her faith. I love how the author makes you feel like you are back in high school, and dealing with all kinds of situations like bullies and deciding on colleges. I also adore Jake, the author wrote him perfectly. He is definitely a swoon-worthy male lead! I haven’t read many books that incorporate religion in them, but I really enjoyed this! If you are looking for an incredible contemporary read to binge, then this is the book for you💖

  13. 4 out of 5

    Savannah Porter

    Three words to describe this book: Christian, cutesy, and conventional. Lovette (what a name) is banned from swimming and surfing in the ocean after her brother's near-fatal surfing accident. She also loves God a lot and signed a purity pledge when she was twelve, saying she doesn't want to kiss anyone until the preacher says, "You may now kiss the bride." But then hunky Jake Evans walks into her life, and she knows she's toast. First of all, you have to be really Christian to enjoy this book. T Three words to describe this book: Christian, cutesy, and conventional. Lovette (what a name) is banned from swimming and surfing in the ocean after her brother's near-fatal surfing accident. She also loves God a lot and signed a purity pledge when she was twelve, saying she doesn't want to kiss anyone until the preacher says, "You may now kiss the bride." But then hunky Jake Evans walks into her life, and she knows she's toast. First of all, you have to be really Christian to enjoy this book. There's lots of religious theology, lots of quoted scripture, and lots of "if you have sex before you're married, you're damned" talk. For me, it was too much. Too didactic. A little too problematic, especially with views about sex and kissing. (I don't care what people's views are on this, religious or not, but it drove me crazy that Lovette judged others for their actions.) In general, Lovette just felt like a judgy, Christian teenager who thought she was better than everyone else because she's good at surfing and has a great relationship with God. There were also other small things I didn't like. The first chapter is horrible and has really nothing to do with the entire book. There's also a scene in the book that's a carbon copy of a scene in the book/movie A Walk to Remember (which is also Christian, so I'm pretty darn sure the author "borrowed" the scene). Also, Lovette makes a huge deal about how she hates lying in the first couple chapters, but proceeds to do it throughout the whole book without a second thought. And the plot just moves really slowly. This book just wasn't for me. Writing Aesthetic/Style: 3 Plot/Movement: 2 Character Development: 2 Overall: 2 Thank you Penguin Workshop and NetGalley for the review copy!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    This book....oh my. What fun. It's like Twilight level crack without the vampires and with youth group and therefore without the guilt. Not since reading The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August have I woken up in the middle of the night to *really quickly* see what happens next. The story is adorable, there are so many twists and turns, and I found myself cheering or screaming noooooooooo as I read (hello...the surfboard almost-but-not-quite scene almost killed me). If you were a part of Youth G This book....oh my. What fun. It's like Twilight level crack without the vampires and with youth group and therefore without the guilt. Not since reading The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August have I woken up in the middle of the night to *really quickly* see what happens next. The story is adorable, there are so many twists and turns, and I found myself cheering or screaming noooooooooo as I read (hello...the surfboard almost-but-not-quite scene almost killed me). If you were a part of Youth Group culture, you will find yourself laughing out loud at how you thought your experience was so unique but... apparently not. Who should read this: 1. Anyone, especially women, who are or were in YOUTH GROUP CULTURE (you know who you are) 2. Anyone who loves/wants to learn more about someone who is in the #1 group. The little side thoughts about how Bible stories relate to THIS MOMENT... well, welcome to my 16 year old brain. 3. People who love wholesome crack teen lit. Hey...if you're not a Christian or a surfer...come learn about a new culture!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lyra

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I discovered this book through and ad on my Instagram and was happy that there was a modern book with a Christian protagonist. This book was so real and relatable. I often found myself laughing or gasping at things in the book, and I could relate to Lovette’s youth group activities, because they’re similar to mine, and also feeling like you’re putting other things befor God, because that’s something that every Christian strugglers with. She sometimes questioned what God was doing in her life, bu I discovered this book through and ad on my Instagram and was happy that there was a modern book with a Christian protagonist. This book was so real and relatable. I often found myself laughing or gasping at things in the book, and I could relate to Lovette’s youth group activities, because they’re similar to mine, and also feeling like you’re putting other things befor God, because that’s something that every Christian strugglers with. She sometimes questioned what God was doing in her life, but she ultimately went back to Him and trusted that He had a plan. What prevents this book from being five stars, however, is how easily Lovette breaks her promise of not kissing until marriage. She goes from nothing to full on make-out sessions that almost lead to more. It also frustrates me that it took her so long to tell her parents about surfing again.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne

    I was completely transported back to my own high school days as I read an advanced copy of Heather’s book - the story takes place in modern day SoCal, not the 80’s like when I was in high school (man I’m old!), but because this story so vividly captures themes that make going through those teenage years feel so huge and important and awkward and real, I connected to the characters and had fun reading this book. The theme of Christian Faith is strong in the story which I think is captured quite w I was completely transported back to my own high school days as I read an advanced copy of Heather’s book - the story takes place in modern day SoCal, not the 80’s like when I was in high school (man I’m old!), but because this story so vividly captures themes that make going through those teenage years feel so huge and important and awkward and real, I connected to the characters and had fun reading this book. The theme of Christian Faith is strong in the story which I think is captured quite well in that it is the main character’s personal passion, and that’s lovely to have a topic like faith and belief explained from a teenager’s point of view.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Zoe and MB

    I thought that this was a really good book! It was interesting to learn about how people who are more religious than me think, along with a cute summer romance. I would recommend this to people who are religious, because while it is a great book, if you don’t share some of these beliefs or an understanding of religion, you might not enjoy this book. This was such a cute story, with a great summer surfing romance!

  18. 4 out of 5

    McKenzi

    I throughly enjoyed the message portrayed in this story. Lovette was such a thought out character who showed development throughout the whole book. I loved her belief in her faith and it certainly threw me back to my own youth group days. I enjoyed how accepting Jake was and how encouraging he was.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Natalie - FerryGoodBooks

    I’ll start by saying that I like the idea of this book: a high school girl who is set in her ways, knows her priorities, and is choosing not to date, but rather enhance her relationship with God until she’s older. But as a kid that grew up in a Christian household and led a fairly sheltered life, I still couldn’t relate to Lovette. She seemed too naive to me, even at her young high school age. Saying “I’m not dating because of Jesus” isn’t a phrase I would have said or heard at her age. That bei I’ll start by saying that I like the idea of this book: a high school girl who is set in her ways, knows her priorities, and is choosing not to date, but rather enhance her relationship with God until she’s older. But as a kid that grew up in a Christian household and led a fairly sheltered life, I still couldn’t relate to Lovette. She seemed too naive to me, even at her young high school age. Saying “I’m not dating because of Jesus” isn’t a phrase I would have said or heard at her age. That being said, the more I read and the more I saw her and Jake’s relationship bloom, the more I understood. I liked learning about the motivation behind her decision, even when she didn’t have much encouragement from her family. I did think the dialogue between Lovette and her friends and family was a little cheesy at times, especially with Kelly and her parents, which again made it difficult to relate. I was also frustrated with Lovette thinking she had the right to be mad at Jake for still talking to his ex when she very clearly told him she did not want to date anyone, including him. She didn’t have the right to do that, and it frustrated me. But Jake was a delight! I loved that he called Lovette out when she was frustrated and wanted to quit surfing and encouraged her to keep going. I really enjoyed the Old Man Mike character as well. Overall, I struggled to relate to the characters in this book, but the message was very encouraging.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Martin

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. “‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God. – Romans 8:28’” When I first read the description for this book, I was really excited to read it because the plot reminded me of Soul Surfer. Plus, I was excited to read a book that had a Christian female protagonist. But, when I actually read this book, I had some different thoughts. I want to begin by highlighting the aspects of the book that work well. Plot wise, everything but the romance (more on that later) was inte “‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God. – Romans 8:28’” When I first read the description for this book, I was really excited to read it because the plot reminded me of Soul Surfer. Plus, I was excited to read a book that had a Christian female protagonist. But, when I actually read this book, I had some different thoughts. I want to begin by highlighting the aspects of the book that work well. Plot wise, everything but the romance (more on that later) was interesting to me. I found myself getting really invested in everyone’s stories. When Kelly was first introduced with her moseying walk and purple streak of hair, I thought she’d be a character with spunk, but it turns out that was Lydia. Instead, Kelly was the jealous friend who was also concerned for Lovette but showing it in a horrible way. I seriously hated Kelly for most of the novel because she was being pushy and judgmental of Lovette. Even when they had the Kelly-Dave-Lovette lunch, which was super awkward but in a way that made the tension fun, Kelly was just trying to express concern to Lovette at the choices she was making in her relationship with Jake. Though I agreed with what Kelly was saying (Lovette should’ve been more careful in her relationship because her rose-colored eyes were causing her standards for romance to slip), I still hated Kelly because she was being so rude and judgmental in how she was expressing her concern. She was practically commanding Lovette to break up with Jake, and while you can be concerned for someone’s well being, you can never force him or her to act in certain ways. We can only encourage and uplift our friends, and we can be a shoulder to cry on when they do make mistakes. So, in the entire book, Butcha is building up the reader’s hatred and dislike for Kelly’s character, and then it turns out Kelly’s the most interesting character in the book. While Kelly’s trying to get Lovette to turn from the dangerous path she’s on, it turns out Kelly had been secretly going down that path herself and she was miserable because of it. So she was only trying to protect Lovette, in a twisted sort of way. And, even though we find out in the bathroom scene that Kelly was the one who helped Cecilia with the reveal of Lovette’s virgin essay, you can’t help but feel sorry for Kelly because she was struggling with her own guilt of taking things too far with Dave. This complexity of Kelly’s character is why I think Kelly is the most interesting character in the book, though my feelings were only neutral about her by the end. She had a lot of hatred to make up for, so let’s just be impressed that I was neutral. Another interesting plot element was Lovette’s big return debut to surfing and her struggle to tell her parents. I’m somewhat surprised that her parents never found out actually, but I’m glad that allowed Lovette to have the agency to tell her parents. I also appreciated the tension between Lovette and Matt. I liked how we started out with that bear hug when Matt was first introduced. I always love seeing sweet brother-sister relationships since I have a more complex relationship with my brother. I also appreciated their fight over the secrets they were both keeping from their parents. True sibling dynamic there. And it ended with a sweet make up (when Matt set everything up so Lovette could compete in the big surf competition), but in a way that felt authentic. I also think the Christianity aspect was incorporated well into the plot. It never felt preachy, and I often related to what the characters were saying. I even recognized some of the Christian songs that were quoted, though I wish more were quoted because I am a Christian music fanatic. Okay, now that I’ve said some nice things, I have to dig into a MAJOR issue I have with this novel. I alluded to this earlier, but I was NOT (I MEAN NOOOOTTT) a fan of the Lovette-Jake romance. I did ship them as friends but not as romantic partners. They had more of a friendship chemistry than a romantic chemistry. (In fact, I didn’t see the romantic chemistry at all and found their lovesick puppy dog behavior to be quite annoying.) An example of their good friendship dynamic is when they go to the Venue for the first time. Jake and Lovette joked about their horrible dancing skills (which is totally me btw). The book says, “At 8:50 p.m., we hear the music cue up. Lydia tells Jake about the dance club at nine (Latin Music Fridays) and how Uncle Joe lets me and Lyds go out there as long as we don’t drink, and how we both love to dance. / ‘Correction,’ I say, pointing a butter knife at her. ‘Lydia’s the dancer. I’m the mannequin, hoping not to get knocked over.’ / He laughs. ‘It’s okay. My dancing looks like I’m on a trampoline.’” Whew, long quote, but my point is this feels like that let-loose moment you have with friends when you’re enjoying, and admitting to, your awkwardness but owning it nonetheless. I feel like in today’s society people automatically think that when a boy and girl get along in this way, then it is an automatic romantic ship (reminds me of “When Harry Met Sally,” one of my favs). The thing is, though, God has chosen at most that one special someone who you get along with so well that it’s as if you’re one, and so you marry and you two become one body. So, if we’re meant for one other person (or single celibate life, which is a beautiful and valid vocation in and of itself), then that means most of boy-girl interactions are going to be as friends. And, in the case of Lovette and Jake, their dynamic works really well as a friendship but bombs at being a romantic relationship. And they do have a lot of things in common; they both had military dads, and Jake helped encourage Lovette to get back into the water and surf. This kind of encouragement is something you can really appreciate from a friend, but there really has to be that “something something” element to make sparks fly between two characters, and I just didn’t get those vibes from them. Worse than that, though, I didn’t ship them because their romantic relationship was pretty appalling to me, especially since this is a book about a Christian female teenage. Young teenage girls are probably reading this looking for direction in their own dating relationships, and I’m honestly disappointed at the example this book sets. (If you want some good encouragement, check out “How to Find Your Soulmate without Losing Your Soul” by Jason and Crystalina Evert.) When I was sixteen, I was pretty similar to early book version of Lovette. I also had a ban against dating, and I’m glad I had that ban because it kept me from making stupid mistakes every time I got the tiniest, naïve teen crush. At the time, I didn’t need a book setting an example that said, yeah you should go for it with your crushes especially if that person likes you back. No. What I needed was a story where the girl remained strong in her standards and was like, yeah imma stick with this dating ban promise I made when I was twelve because I set it in place so I’d remain strong when the temptation did come. In Lovette’s case, she immediately caved to every temptations because she attributed her younger self to being naïve for making a dating ban. Like, no. You make those promises at a time when you don’t face the temptation, so when the temptation does come, you say to yourself: No. I made this promise for a very good reason. And Lovette did make that promise for a good reason. She took things way too far with Jake. Before they even had full-on make out sessions, Jake would make out with her shoulders and neck. That’s just as lustful as when they were making out for an hour plus to the point that their lips were raw. Literally, their making out was so lusty that Jake got an erection every time. That’s saying something about losing your standards a bit. Basically, I was 100% against their relationship while it was happening because Lovette thought that letting go of her standards was okay. And I really wanted to see a character who held her standards high because she saw the wait as worth it, and women need to hear that more. We are not told this nearly enough. For those of you out there reading this, the wait is worth it. This took me a long time to fully grasp and have peace with, but trust me, in the long runs it’s worth it. If you’re having a hard time being patient now, imagine what your wedding day will be like if you wait: smiles so wide your cheeks hurt, your stomach fluttering, you feeling so light you glide down the aisle with the grace of a princess, and waiting at the end is the man you’ve waited so long for and he looks just like how you feel. Back to this book, though. Even when Lovette and Jake started dating, the two acknowledged they were dating because they were attracted to each other and they had no intention of getting married one day. If the point of dating is to find your future spouse (which, btw, dating and courting are the same thing, so that was another thing that annoyed me about Kelly), then what is the point of wasting your time, and lowering your standards, on a relationship you acknowledge from the beginning is not going anywhere? It was choices like these that made me think Lovette was really immature. I had to remind myself repeatedly that Lovette is 16. But even still, most of my friends and I did not act this way when we were 16. The way Lovette was acting by thinking things like, oh I was immature to make a dating ban when I was 12 and had no temptations, but now that I’m faced with temptation, it’s different because I want to date this hot guy who I sorta like, even if it’s not good for me, so I’m just going to do it because it brings me pleasure. This type of thought process that Lovette had, which btw never showed any remorse for her lowered standards (another reason why she felt immature), made her feel like she was 14 and not 16 almost 17. Lovette was just not believable as a sixteen-year-old. Another reason why she felt so immature is because of the agency that she kept giving away. She gave away her agency to be strong in her standards when she decided to date Jake, when she decided to kiss him (which was more like a first make out session than a first kiss; no wonder why she couldn’t stop, that’s addicting in a non-psychologically healthy way), and when she decided to lose her virginity to Jake, especially at the moment when she was desperately clinging onto him because he was about to leave for good (and she knew it was better for her to let him go and knew she was not going to marry him). In this moment when Lovette makes the final decision to lower her standards completely, she gives away her final agency to say no to the temptations of physicality in romantic relationships. And the agency is passed along to Jake instead. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to see Jake’s character development where he goes from being flippant about sex to saying, no we are not having sex because waiting is special for you Lovette. While it was nice to see this character development in Jake, Lovette is the main character, so she is the one who should have the agency in the pivotal moments of the novel. And when it comes to the biggest moment in this book, Lovette gives up her agency to the point that Jake has to take it over. From a writing standpoint, giving the agency to a character other than the main protagonist is unsatisfying to the reader. From the content standpoint, it was disappointing that our female protagonist didn’t stand up for her standards. Women really need to see examples of this in literature so they feel inspired to stand up for themselves. Seriously, I’m currently writing a psychology senior thesis about how fictional narratives and characters have a large impact on our beliefs and subsequent actions. If we use literature to teach women to hold their standards high, then the lessons will influence the women’s actions. But, I’ve beat this dead horse super dead by now, so I’m going to move on to one final point. Pacing. Finally I talk about something writing related, am I right? There is actually more I could get into about the writing, but I really wanted to focus on the content for this review because I think it is a fundamental issue of this piece. As far as pacing goes, though, it was really weird in this book. Some scenes span one day and last for five plus chapters and then the book jumps a week to a month in the span of a paragraph. Normally, using summary to pass through time is a good tool, but Butcha heavy loads the major events of the book into only a few separate days and then she jumps a bunch of time in between those days. It makes the timeline feel really unbalanced. Like, no one has days that are that eventful and then have days of nothing for that long just to have an overly eventful day again. While we occasionally have really eventful days, normal life isn’t balanced like that. For example, let’s look at the most pivotal day in this entire book, the midpoint. In this one day alone, we go: from Cecilia putting up Lovette’s essay and revealing Lovette’s virginity, to Lovette’s complete emotional breakdown from the embarrassment, to Jake opening up for the first time about his dad, to Lovette accepting what happened to her, to Lovette feeling so loved that her friends were cleaning up all the papers, to Jake coming to the first family dinner at Lovette’s house, to Lovette’s parents almost finding out about her surfing, to Lovette and Jake fighting over Lovette not telling her parents, to Lovette going to the Venue alone, to Lydia texting Jake to get him to show up so Jake and Lovette can stupidly fight some more, to Lovette deciding to let go of her first standard and choose to casually date Jake. Exhausted from reading that sentence? Well, I’m exhausted from typing it. That’s an insane amount of things to happen in one day! Each of those bigger scenes should have happened on their own separate days, and they should have been spaced out at least a week. I mean, public shaming of Lovette’s virginity alone is such an emotional weight to unpack that she would’ve needed at least a week to recover from that. How she accepts it is believable, but that weight of the emotional hurt would still take time to heal, and we do not get that in this book. Instead, we get a plot dump on us that happened so fast we, the readers, cannot keep up with it. Too much happens in too short a timeframe. Sigh. Welp. This has been long. Thanks to those who stuck with me through this, but this review is ridiculously long, so I’m out. Byyyeee!

  21. 4 out of 5

    John Clark

    When Lovette was twelve and felt abandoned by her parents who were totally focused on her injured and comatose brother, she made a deal with God. It was extensive and, she believed, rock solid to the point of immutability. However life is complex and ever changing and people, especially teens, are fallible. This is an extremely well crafted tale of such a fallible teen. It's true to her beliefs, while also being realistic about how emotions and circumstances make such a commitment a giant challe When Lovette was twelve and felt abandoned by her parents who were totally focused on her injured and comatose brother, she made a deal with God. It was extensive and, she believed, rock solid to the point of immutability. However life is complex and ever changing and people, especially teens, are fallible. This is an extremely well crafted tale of such a fallible teen. It's true to her beliefs, while also being realistic about how emotions and circumstances make such a commitment a giant challenge when family messiness, peer pressure, and first love send their waves crashing over daily life. I liked it a great deal and feel it is deserving of a place in school and public libraries where teens who face complex issues are valued.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Noelani Risley

    This book was so good. I felt like I could relate to the main character. I was pleasantly surprised how religion was heavily mentioned. It didn’t bug me as I am a Christian. 10 out 10 would recommend.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Meagan Rose

    Heather Buchta’s YA contemporary debut novel, Beyond the Break, seamlessly blends the trials of young adulthood with encouraging spirituality, hitting similar chords to that of the movie Soul Surfer and Jenny Han’s series To All the Boys I Loved Before. The story follows a teenage, Christian girl named Lovette, who lives in Manhattan Beach, California. After her older brother suffered a terrible surfing accident that caused him to have to relearn how to walk and talk, Lovette lives by two rules: Heather Buchta’s YA contemporary debut novel, Beyond the Break, seamlessly blends the trials of young adulthood with encouraging spirituality, hitting similar chords to that of the movie Soul Surfer and Jenny Han’s series To All the Boys I Loved Before. The story follows a teenage, Christian girl named Lovette, who lives in Manhattan Beach, California. After her older brother suffered a terrible surfing accident that caused him to have to relearn how to walk and talk, Lovette lives by two rules: 1) no surfing, at least that’s what her parents demand. And 2) no dating, unless it’s for marriage purposes. That was a vow Lovette made when she was twelve between herself and Jesus after her brother woke up from his coma. Period. And now in her junior year of high school, her two rules have worked pretty well. She’s happy. she has friends at school, youth group, and a job. At least that’s what Lovette tells herself. But then there’s Jake Evans. A boy from her childhood that suddenly reappears and rocks her world. He’s cute, sweet, and stirs up feelings in Lovette that she has been trying to avoid for the past four years— the desire to get out and surf again, and also, quite possibly, have a romantic relationship. Lovette is forced to tackle her beliefs head on, wrestling with the idea on whether it is possible to have these feelings for Jake while still staying true to her convictions. As a Christian myself, I found myself afraid to read this book. Christian fiction, specifically YA, is often so cheesy, I can barely stand it. So with bated breath, I dove in, and I was delightfully surprised. It was cringe, but it was because I recognized myself and people I know. It was cheesy, but in that classic YA romance kind of way, just like in To All the Boys I Loved Before. I ended up loving it, and I was shocked. It was also unexpectedly moving, in a “wow, these characters who I thought were perfect, and cardboard stereotypes, actually are just as screwed up as me.” Lovette felt like high school me; I related to her in a really powerful way, that it almost had me in tears near the end of the story. She struggles with wanting to do the right thing. What is the right thing to do? How do I know if it’s right? What do I do when the thing I want isn’t the right thing? To see her slip and fall, but then also have mini triumphs was incredibly cathartic for me. Advertisement I also appreciated how Buchta was able to make her friendships not cliche, but have ups and downs. People get hurt and act in cruel ways. But there is also forgiveness and a true friendship kind of love that is beautiful to read. The romance is well written as well. Jake and Lovette have chemistry on the page. He was not the stereotypical perfect boy, like I was expecting. He had his own mood swings and baggage to deal with. I was expecting a cliche teenage romance, but instead I was rewarded with realistic emotions and relationship struggles. Lastly, I have to applaud Buchta’s ability to write the Christian worldview in a relatable and non-overbearing way. However, she does not shy from the hard questions like “where is God when bad stuff happens?”, or “if I sin too much will God stop loving me?” Buchta answers them gracefully and winsomely that doesn’t feel like some cheap platitude or having religion shoved down your throat. In the end, Beyond the Break is a YA contemporary full of heart and honesty, that is willing to brave the waters of doubt and tragedy, but also able to rise up and see the hope and beauty in the world. https://www.theyoungfolks.com/review/...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Francesca Rusackas

    Can't wait to own my own copy of Beyond the Break., it's a story with heart. Heather Buchta delivers a must read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ella

    I loved this book so much!! Lovette’s faith inspired me so much, and makes me want to be just like her. And everything she struggled with as a christian, is SO relatable. overall, 10 out of 10!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Lyons

    A sweet, adventurous page turner! So impressed with the strength of Lovettes voice; spoken and thought. I wish I was a surfer now. 😬

  27. 5 out of 5

    Scott Manson

    I love this book... and I love Lovette.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    High school me would have been obsessed with this book!! It was made for Christian Teens figuring out high school and boys.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mackenzie

    Oh my goodness! I loved this book! Such a cute YA romance! Def gonna be a re-read💖

  30. 5 out of 5

    Beth Tanner

    Relationships are hard. Doing the right thing is not always easy. Being in a relationship for the first time is scarey and exciting all at the same time. On top of it all, what if the choices you are making are disappointing God?! Beyond the Break is a wonderful example of a teenage girl in today's world trying to navigate the modern world while still staying true to her beliefs and her Heavenly Father. This beautifully written novel serves to remind girls that they are not alone in their faith j Relationships are hard. Doing the right thing is not always easy. Being in a relationship for the first time is scarey and exciting all at the same time. On top of it all, what if the choices you are making are disappointing God?! Beyond the Break is a wonderful example of a teenage girl in today's world trying to navigate the modern world while still staying true to her beliefs and her Heavenly Father. This beautifully written novel serves to remind girls that they are not alone in their faith journey and that no matter what happens in their life, they will always have Someone to turn to. If you are looking for a novel to increase your belief that God will always be by your side and that it's okay to be confused because He loves you anyway, I think this would be a wonderful novel for you to read. Even if you are not a teenager anymore. Maybe even especially if you're not. You might even find yourself wishing this book was around when you were Lovette's age so you could learn the lessons she did just a little bit sooner.

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