Have a Little Faith in Me, by Sonia Hartl
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Publisher: Page Street Kids
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Length: 336 pages
Times Read: 2
“Saved!” meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that takes a meaningful look at consent and what it means to give it.
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.
How much do I love this book? So much that I want to go back in time and give a copy to every girl I knew that went to church–including myself. Maybe especially myself. I identify hard with this one. Extremely hard.
♥ CeCe is my own personal hero. She’s brash, loud, proud to be a girl, and unapologetic about it. When she decides she’s going to follow her ex to church camp to try to win him back, her best friend Paul volunteers to go with her–after all, he’s been there before and knows what to expect. He wants to help her through it, because he is The Best.
But when they get there, CeCe finds that Ethan has already moved on and is in a new relationship. Since she can’t admit that she came there for him, she tells everyone that Paul is her boyfriend. He goes along with it, again, because he is The Best.
“Paul pulled me against him and nuzzled my ear. “I’m not very happy with you right now,” he whispered.”
“Just go with it. I’ll explain later.”
But CeCe doesn’t just sit idly by and let camp pass her by. She gets to know her bunkmates, she hangs out with Paul, and when she hears some of the things that are being preached in the workshops, especially to girls, she can’t stay quiet. She goes off on one of the lecturers, a woman who advises that girls should dress modestly so they don’t distract boys. Cece stands up to say that, in no uncertain terms, this is bullshit, but she also asks where the responsibility is for the boys in this scenario? Why are girls always made to feel shame about their own bodies? This is the kind of shit I grew up hearing, so like I said, CeCe=my hero.
♥ Paul is the BFF we all need: Paul and CeCe live next door to each other and have been best friends forever. Paul’s dad is a pretty well-known pastor, and he grew up much like I did-going to church every Sunday, youth group every week, church camp, Sunday school, etc., etc., forever and ever amen. But after his dad cheated on his mom, Paul dropped religion entirely, quitting both church and camp. He never liked CeCe’s boyfriend, but after Ethan dumped her, Paul is completely there for her.
“He put the hideout up the day after Ethan had ended things with me. Paul drew a bunch of little fish and told a story about a girl who created an ocean with her tears and learned how to swim.”
Once they’re at camp, he helps her with all of the religion business she doesn’t know, even sneaking out at night to prep her for the next day. He lets her do her own thing, make her own choices, but he just can’t help but feel fiercely protective over her around Ethan, after the way he he dumped her right after sleeping with him for the first time.
“Paul held Ethan’s gaze, like in a game of chicken, until Ethan turned his attention back to his food. “Forget it, man. I’m not here to fight. I’m trying to get closer to Jesus.”
“I’m not. Remember that the next time you breathe a word about CeCe to me.”
TBH, this gives me shivers every time I read it. And Ethan was being a real ass just before this. But Paul is at camp for CeCe. And if she had decided to leave, he would be gone, too.
♥ Ethan is a bag of dicks. Maybe this is a mild spoiler, because the synopsis tries to be *vAgUe* about him, but he’s an ass. Anyone who pushes a girl to have sex with him only to break up with her the day after she finally does is, and I don’t care what your reasoning is. But for the record, his reason is shit. You don’t get to beg your girlfriend to have sex with you for months, then tell her she’s a temptress and dump her to focus on your relationship with god the next day, conveniently blaming satan when she tries to get answers later. Ethan is every religious kid I knew growing up–being taught that sex is evil and then either flying to pieces or becoming a repressed monster as a teenager, because religion doesn’t mean you don’t still get the hormones that everyone else does. It just means that you’re taught that they’re bad. [I know this is definitely not every religion, but this is my experience].
♥ The girls of cabin 8 are all QUEENS. They are just all so damn supportive of each other from the start, and they include CeCe even though no one knows her and it’s clear that she’s not really a good Christian girl like they are. Even when one of them actually has a good reason to hate CeCe, she doesn’t. She acknowledges it, they discuss it, and move past it as friends which is just…??? How? Most adults can’t even manage this. It took my best friend and me ten years and more than one friend breakup to get to this point. (Hi Laura! Still mad at you about the time you promised the video recorder was off in high school!)
♥ The lessons in consent are heartbreakingly honest. I legitimately learned a lot from this book, and it all comes down to the author’s work around explaining consent, just when I start thinking I might somehow know it all. Paul, (unsurprisingly, because he is The Best), drops these lines that would leave me reeling. Stuff like:
“He didn’t take advantage of me, or just plow his way in. He asked me, and I said yes.”
“How many times did you say no first?”
And BAM. By the end of this chapter I was wrecked, immediately flooded with memories of all the times when I first said “no”, but felt pressure to go further even though I was never actively forced. It had never, ever occurred to me that this was wrong. If anything, I blamed myself–I made him wait too long, he’s gone further before so it’s hard for him to be satisfied with just kissing, etc.
“Yes is just a word. You have to mean it for it to be consent.”
Favorite Quotes: “They say you never forget your first time, but I wonder if that’s just because the shame sticks with you forever and ever.” “This was the stuff they needed to teach in sex education. If I didn’t know consent was a conversation, and these girls didn’t know, I was willings to bet there were a whole lot of girls just like us. Girls who technically, legally consented because they said yes once and thought the emptiness they felt afterward was all their fault.”