Destiny Clark, a young Mormon girl living in Tennessee, is wildly infatuated with Isaac Robinson, the headmaster’s son at her Baptist high school. When they’re cast together in the school’s production of Les Misérables, Destiny is horrified to find that she has to be publicly humiliated by acting out her true feelings of rejection onstage.
As their rehearsals begin, Destiny realizes the unimaginable: Isaac has developed deep feelings for her despite their religious differences and the fact that he has a girlfriend.
But will they be able to find their place amongst the backbiters of their ultra-conservative world?
Weaving around Destiny and Isaac’s alternating viewpoints, Destiny is the first book in a series inspired by the characters of Les Misérables and explores heartbreak, self-discovery, intolerance, and love.
This book made me angry. Not because it wasn’t well written (it is) or because I didn’t like the characters (I do), but because Cindy Ray Hale so perfectly captures the hatred and bigotry of religious differences, I wanted to throw my iPad across the room more than once. Although the characters in the story are fictional, the beliefs, that Mormons are a cultish religion, that Baptists won’t have the same blessings in the afterlife as Mormons, are real and they are destroying the relationships of living breathing people every day in this country.
Destiny is a Mormon attending the Bethel Baptist school along with her older brother. Isaac is a Baptist and the head master’s son. Destiny used to be Baptist, but her family converted. They were allowed to continue at the school, but they are outcasts to a large degree. Destiny’s older brother Michael, is popular, but with limitations. The examples set by the adults in this story are anything but Christian, regardless of the religion they belong to. So when Destiny and Isaac begin dating, things go from ugly to sinfully cruel.
I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy a book with such overt religious undertones, but I ended up loving it. The story of these two star-crossed lovers is intense, heartfelt, and so incredibly believable. I loved watching the two main characters evolve their views and understandings of one another over the course of the book. It’s the first in a trilogy, so there is still plenty of ground to cover and nothing so volatile as religious differences can be wrapped up in one novel, just ask Israel and Palestine.
What I really hope doesn’t happen though, is for one of them to convert to the other’s religion in order to be together. Their story will be so much stronger if they can learn to mutually respect one another’s beliefs without needing to believe the same thing in order to be happy together. That is the same hope I have for the world at large. Because if the only way to live in harmony is for everyone to believe the exact same thing, our planet is doomed. And sooner rather than later.
The plot is a basic young adult romance with a twist. The forbidden love story based on religious differences when both religions are Christian was a new angle for me and I loved it. There was so much angst as a result, because deeply held religious beliefs drive so many of the choices people make in life. And when those people happen to be hormonal teens, things are bound to get complicated. I also love how author, Cindy Ray Hale, wove in Les Miserables so perfectly. The characters had parallel roles in the story as well as the musical which added depth.
The characters are what really made this story so strong. They’re so authentic. From both sets of parents, to Destiny and Isaac, and even their siblings, everyone came across as believable and acted according to character. And it’s why I reacted so strongly to the story.
Destiny is a moving story of forbidden teen love with strong characters and deep, meaningful themes that should appeal to people of all faiths.
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Cindy Ray Hale is a Young Adult author and a book blogger. She lives in a little slice of wooded heaven near Atlanta, Georgia.
She spends way too much time following up-and-coming musicians on YouTube and dreams of joining their ranks one day. She’s a bit of a health food nut and can’t live without her daily green smoothies.
She tries to stay sane as she juggles writing with four kids, staying active on social media, and keeping up her book blog. In addition to writing and self-publishing two Young Adult Contemporary novels, she has also written articles for “New Era” magazine and The American Preppers Network.