#FSYALit: There You’ll Find Me, a guest post by Dahlia Adler
It’s there, to be sure. Finley Sinclair, hotel heiress, is on a trip to study abroad in Ireland in large part to rediscover her faith after her brother is killed in a terrorist act. Her brother had done this very same trip years earlier, and the journal of his that Finley is following on her travels reveals that Ireland is where he felt closest to God. So to reclaim her closeness to both Will and Jesus, and to be able to finish the musical opus she intends to perform at an upcoming interview with a posh Manhattan music conservatory, Finley retraces his steps, right down to looking for a mysterious cross he’d sketched.
Another confession: had I known this was Christian fiction, it’s unlikely I would have picked it up. I live religion, and not Christianity; I’m an Orthodox Jew, which manifests itself in a billion ways every day and about whom approximately one mainstream YA has been written, ever. In much the same way I’m sure people of color are tired of reading about white people all the time, I feel pretty set on reading, hearing, and watching about people’s relationships with Jesus.
But now here’s the point: I liked this book, not despite what it was but because of it. Yes, the God of There You’ll Find Me is the Christian God. Yes, the in-person guiding spirit of Finley’s journey is a kindly and patient nun. Yes, there is no arguing that this is Christian fiction, not Jewish, not Muslim, not Hindu, not Buddhist. And yet, that fact is almost easy to ignore in this book. It feels, first and foremost, like a book about faith and a higher power, period. It does not feel centered in uniquely Christian ideas such as Jesus dying for our sins, but rather in connection, in patience, in love, in finding the ability to overcome, which are universally religious ideas. Which are, in fact, universal ideas, period. I dare say this book could be about having any sort of anchor, something that ties you to passion and confidence and knowledge and security. And that’s why I think it works so well. It doesn’t feel Christian or even religious in an exclusionary fashion. It manages to be relatable despite the unique circumstances, despite the characters being people in the public eye, despite it being set somewhere I’ve never been. What so many YAs can’t achieve in the most everyday settings with the most everyday characters, There You Find Me does.
What’s also tremendously notable about it is that it’s a faith book and a romance and a Hollywood love story, but it’s also a story about Finley’s personal growth and difficulties, and about family. It’s about things that aren’t constantly looping back into God and religion, but are just being. Finley’s a person independent of her relationship with God, and her relationship is independent as well. She has her own things at stake, her own ways she wants to grow, and her own ways she’s faltering, and never does the book fall into the trap of suggesting that if only she believed harder and let God take control of everything, all would be perfect. Bad things happen to goodd people, including Will, including Finley. And good things happen to them too. And that’s life, both in There You’ll Find Me, and in reality.
Meet Our Guest Blogger
Dahlia Adler is an Associate Editor of Mathematics by day, writes YA and NA by night, and blogs for B&N Teens at every spare moment in between. She is the author of the Daylight Falls duology, Just Visiting, and the Radleigh University series. She lives in New York City with her husband and their overstuffed bookshelves. You can talk to Dahlia on Twitter.
Filed under: #FSYALit
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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