Surviving high school is one of the most challenging times in the life of a teenager. And when you’re new to town, it’s even more difficult. In Donald James Parker’s “Love Waits,” fourteen-year-old Cheri is forced to face some tough problems when her mother dies and her father moves them from a small Nebraska town to the big city.

It’s bad enough that Cheri doesn’t know anyone, but when one of the few girls she knows discovers she’s still a virgin and tells everyone, Cheri feels compelled to rectify the situation. But she runs into an obstacle on the road when her father gets a neighbor to keep an eye on her. Cheri is willing to hate Jean, but instead they develop a close relationship, one that changes Cheri’s perspective and her life.

With the help of neighboring grandmother Cheri goes through a process of self-discovery and religious awakening and learns about the consequences of premarital sex. Her new boyfriend is a member of Jean’s church and the two adorable teens are strong enough to embrace their faith and cope with peer pressure. Cheri especially seems wise beyond her age as she tries to deal with problems at home. When her mother died, the father-daughter relationship suffered and her father turned to sports, alcohol, and a silly new blonde to fill the void.

The story has a lot of faith-related content, but what might have looked like a preaching is presented as an entertaining story with a message, benefiting both adults and teens. I shared my copy with a sixteen year old girl. He had no trouble identifying with the characters despite some dialogue that he felt was exaggerated. Teen jargon and humor change with time and place, but the struggles are universal, the same ones we all face. She was caught up in the story like me and eager to see where it would take her. In the middle of the book, it seemed as if the characters had grown in their relationships with each other and with God. Things were going well and it seemed that everything was resolved. That’s when the author threw another curveball, added more conflict, and the pages started flying again.

This is a wonderful story about family, friends, and God that parents may want to read along with their teens. It’s a realistic look at contemporary teens and the challenges they face. That said, there is content that may make some readers uncomfortable. The author tackles some serious issues by dealing with topics that most of us don’t want to think about, such as death, premarital sex, rape, and teenage pregnancy. The dangers of promiscuity are detailed, with sharply defined views on sex, relationships, and abortion. This is a book with real life lessons and all presented in a sensitive way with messages of love, kindness and forgiveness. It is an inspiring story, I highly recommend it.

Love Waits by Donald James Parker is available as a free e-book download from the author’s website.
Publication of the Sword of the Spirit
ISBN 13: 978-0-578-01560-6

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