Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mags Storey's Story: IF ONLY YOU KNEW


This week's blog tour for CFRB focuses on If Only You Knew, a novel by Canadian Mags Storey that went in directions I didn't expect when I read the title. I expected a mystery but not a romance. It turns out it was both mystery and romance, both suspenseful and full of relationships. In other words, If Only You Knew is more than meets the eye at first glance.

The tale grows around Jo, a young woman who is just barely out of high school and full of
self-doubt. The more we learn about her background, the more we understand her insecurities. The setting is modern day in a resort town in Canada; one of those places where the population dips drastically once the summer vacations are over. It's no accident, then, that the action begins at the beach. It hit the ground running with a really packed opener: a screaming lovers' fight, the main character nearly run over by a car, and a near-drowning. Talk about bad days: Jo probably wishes she had stayed in bed. It doesn't end there, of course, and the people involved in these events show up over and over again as the impetus of the novel. Perhaps the subtitle could even be A Tale of Two Men. Yes, Jo's life becomes entwined with the two guy she meets at the beginning of Mags' story. Kevin is a most incredible hunk of a guy, Mr. Perfect, who almost runs over Jo and who turns her knees to jello when he invites her to a concert he's working with. Then there's Sam, the recipient of the verbal abuse in the one-sided fight that first grabs Jo's attention. Oddly enough, Sam latches on to Jo as a sympathetic and similar soul struggling through life.

With well-paced humor, action, and suspense, the author draws the readers into this character-driven novel. It has all the ingredients for a page-turner. I like the way she doles out information in small bites, making us want to know more, keeping us a little off-kilter and hungry for the rest. You know there is more to each character and event than first meets the eye, and for me, anyway, half the fun is trying to guess what's coming. I got some of it right and some of it wrong: Truthfully, I was glad to be wrong in some ways.

There are several stories going at once, but much of it involves the fact that people are not perfect even when they are Christians. When a person comes to that personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it makes life worth while, but we will always be imperfect on our own. Jo and Sam are scarred and skeptical when they first agree to attend The Gathering, a youth-oriented and informal Sunday night meeting at this church, yet they are continually drawn to the meetings and become involved with the Christians there. Jo goes at first because she has a cru
sh on super-hunk Kevin, a fairly new Christian who constantly disappears mysteriously when he's with her. There are several points made during the telling of the tale, spiritual points, told by the events and the reactions of the characters.

Now Jo has all kinds of baggage and all kinds of drama in her life. Her mother is a real loser, but she passed that label on to Jo, undeservedly, I might add. Then there's an awful scene Jo witnessed the year before. One evening when she was looking through binoculars, she witnessed a horrific hit-and-run. She even called 911 anonymously, knowing the driver did it on purpose. But now the victim turns up alive, beyond all odds. Weird though; none of his closest friends even know about what happened to him, and he isn't talking. Jo thinks maybe she imagined it, but she doubts her doubts. And then there are these obvious ne'er-do-wells who start showing up in most menacing fashion, apparently following Jo. She nicknames the Motor-Oil Guy (we called his type 'greasers' when I was teenager) and Red Jacket. Bad things happen, tempers flare, misunderstanding and hurt feelings abound before long, but there are also good things and hope.

This is a book I would recommend for teens and above. In many ways it qualifies as a Young Adult book. The characters are mainly college age with one still in high school, and as such they deal with all those emotions and developments that are associated with teens and younger adults. Still, though, I believe more mature adults would also enjoy it. There are lessons we
could all learn from it, if we only will. Beyond any lessons, though, it is quite enjoyable and engaging. Oh, by the way, although this is fiction, the author used the lives and events from real people she knows as a basis for many of her characters.

Check out Mags Storey's website to get a further glimpse into the books and the author's thoughts and life. Just this week she wrote a very sad note, though: the person who was kind of the real-life Sam died tragically. Your prayers are requested for his family and friends.

Purchase If Only You Knew at
Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and It should also be carried by many Christian bookstores since the publisher, Kregel, is a major player.

Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.

Although not listed in our buttons for this tour, Stephen L. Rice has three reviews up at Back to the Mountains

{Note: In keeping with recent changes to FTC rules, we must disclose to readers when the book review was given to us freely for review purposes. The copy of If Only You Knew that I read was a free review copy, actually a .pdf file from before the book was actually published. }

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