Allyson Kennedy’s Christian YA novel Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl follows Riley Houston through the ups and downs of her freshman year of high school.
Riley exited middle school as an awkward loner, and she is determined to have a better high school career. Thanks to her cousin Trent, two true friends, and catching the attention of her long-time crush, she’s off to a good start – that is, until her first love threatens to become her first heartbreak. Maybe the cute guy Trent introduced her to will prove to be a better boyfriend. Before long though, evil rumors are flying, and Riley seems to be the target – what’s a girl to do?
The author is a great storyteller, and each chapter naturally leads into the next. The voices of the characters are strong and believable, and readers get an inside look at a shy teenaged girl’s worries. The conversations are a realistic and fun way to get to know the characters.
I loved how Riley’s conscience and friends influence her to take the high road, to not spread nasty rumors, to be honest even in difficult situations, ultimately to be kind, and to use good judgment in dating.
Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl shows a good example of a Christian girl going about her day-to-day and choosing to make right decisions. I enjoyed the novel, and I look forward to reading more works by Kennedy.