Riley McGee has the whole world open before her. She could get into any college, major in any subject, become whoever she wants to be. . . . But the truth is, Riley has no earthly idea what to do. She's paralyzed by indecision, afraid of the changes she faces, and as graduation day inches closer, it feels more and more like a threat.
Meanwhile, her autistic brother, Michael, is struggling to fit in at Marina Vista and stay on top of his classes. Riley tries to keep an eye out for him, but when Ms. Moore suggests pulling Michael out of school, Riley has to fight for her brother—and against her favorite teacher. And things take another turn when her ex-boyfriend, Tom, arrives, hoping to give their relationship one more try. On top of that, an ambitious new pastor makes her question everything she thought she knew about faith.
Oh high school. Boy am I glad those days are over. There was so much I hated about high school - the drama, the worrying about whether I was part of the "in crowd" and all those silly boys. Plus there's all the worrying about what you're going to do next in life, trying to get into the right college, and choosing the right path so that you will have a good job and career. It's a rough time and I have felt that the Miracle Girls series have perfectly portrayed this tough and memorable point in one's life.
In this book, we finally get the story from Riley's POV. She's been a character that I've found intriguing since the beginning of the story. Outside she puts up a front as a cheerleader who has it all together with her looks, her smarts, and her boyfriend. Inside however she's weak and fragile and worrying about her younger brother who has autism. Throughout the book is Riley's struggle between the two worlds and how she tries to fit in both of them. There is a great deal about dealing with a child with autism in the book which I found educational and enlightening. Also as well is the four friends trying to figure out their future. I could easily relate to trying to keep the old gang together and the finally realizing we have to all split up and go our own ways.
I am so glad that Anna finally mellowed out in this book. While I like her character, she has just drove me nuts throughout the series about her grades. I totally understand her drive to be no. 1 in the class and to get good scholarships, but it was ruining her relationship with her friends. Riley's final outcome, while a bit unexpected considering where she stood in the class, is something that is quite normal in high schools these days. Sometimes you just need a couple of years to figure out what you want next in life.
While I really enjoyed the book, I'm not sure I'm a fan of the cover. I only say this because the girls represented on the cover don't seem to match up with the descriptions of the characters throughout the books. The girl that is supposed to represent Riley seems shorter and more muscular than what I expected a cheerleader like Riley to be. Other than this little qualm, I loved the book. I have enjoyed the series from the beginning and am really sad to see the series end. I know I say this about a lot of books but I really felt as if I connected with the characters and have watched them grow. Reading this series brought back many memories of high school (both the good and bad) and made me wish that I could either relive or change things I had done back then.
I really hope Anne and May will have a new book coming out in the future. As a huge fan of their writing I have read all their books and won't know what to do now that there is no new book in the future! If you are a fan of YA lit and of Christian fiction that tells things like how they really are or even want a trip back to your high school days, the Miracle Girls series are the perfect books for you. This is a series I always recommend and will probably always will. HIGHLY recommended.
BTW when you read the book, be sure to check out the acknowledgments page. I was SOOO geeked to see it!
Love Will Keep Us Together by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt is published by Faithwords (2010)
This ARC was provided by the publisher