I wonder how many of my posts should start with, “I was having this conversation with (INSERT NAME HERE) the other day, which got me to thinking… And most times, the same few names would be inserted.

So, anyway. I was having this conversation about novels with a friend, and Has to be Love came up.

I really alienated all sides with that book. And my responded with something like–isn’t that what you always do? That book is all you. And of course the answer is yes, yes it kind of is. I write far too naughty for the conservative LDS readers who followed me after my first book, and maybe not nearly naughty enough for readers who read the genre I write in. But with Has to be Love, that all came to the forefront.

  1. I alienated a large amount of the LDS population because I wrote a girl who is a member of the Mormon church, but doesn’t really follow the guidelines, and not even for the right reasons. My  book was called “explicit” on a particular fiction site, and more than one conservative reader has policed me in their reviews, knocking me for “content” rather than writing a review on the story or my writing. (This irks me so very much, but that’s fodder for a different post)
  2. I alienated a large amount of the reading population because even a touch of religion in books can turn people off, and I get that. There are only a few things that turn me off in a book more than feeling like I’m being preached to. (And good grief, I REALLY hope no one feels preached to in Has to be Love).

Now. I get both sides of this. I absolutely do. But I get frustrated when I’ve read 10 YA contemporary novels in a row and none of them even mention a church building. Stats from a TON of different formats show that about 40% of the US goes to church, and 20% consider themselves devout. I don’t care if the MC haaaates being dragged every week, but I wish family’s subscribing to some kind of religion came up more often.

Has to be Love isn’t about the decisions of an LDS girl against or with her faith. The book is about Clara wanting to be seen for WHAT she is, not what she looks like, and then when someone sees her for what she is, she’s terrified of that kind of insight. And all along this path to self-discovery, she makes the decisions that she thinks are best, only realizing later that she’s mucked up everything.

Let’s face it, as much as we wish our bad decisions were made with good intentions, we usually make bad decisions based on some amount of selfishness.

That being said, I love that I wrote this book. I love coming of age stories more than any other kind, and I feel like I accomplished that.

NOW. Because I’m curious, and I did get a great list the other day (but want to add to it) – I’d love to have some YA CONTEMPORARY recommendations where religion plays in, but isn’t a major factor. And I’d also love to know – WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COMING OF AGE NOVEL or three 😉

~ Jo



Published by Jolene Perry

Hiker. Occasional Yogi. Equestrian. Couch potato. Music lover. Mediocre guitar player. Sailor. Tailor. Home body. Traveler. Enjoys suffering from being interested in everything. Co-founder and instructor at Waypoint Author Academy. Rep'd by Amy Bishop of Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret.

4 thoughts on “ALLLLL me

  1. Sounds like you can’t win no matter what. So it’s good that you’re able to ignore all that noise and write what you need to write.

    I can’t think of any contempories off hand that have mentions of religion. It would be nice to see a little more often.

  2. I am an LDS woman who loves Alaska and recently discovered you as an author through your book “Stronger than You Know.” Like your husband, I am an attorney. My employment entails protecting children on a daily basis. Perhaps that is why I am so moved by your book. I am grateful for your writing, that write what you love, and you talk about your faith. I plan to go get the rest of your books and read them this year. Good luck with your current projects. Fighting!

Hey there!! *waves* Thanks for chatting!

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