December 15, 2010
Teen Romance Novel is Moving, Mature, and Sincere
When Kyle Davis returns to town for his senior year of high school, Chelsea Davenport is instantly taken with him. Kyle and Chelsea have known each other for a long time—their fathers were once business partners—but after Kyle’s father committed suicide, his mother sent him away for a while. Now Chelsea sees him in a new light as a mature, attractive young man. But Chelsea isn’t the only girl who feels that way about Kyle. With his good looks and tight abs, football player Kyle is a trophy other girls are determined to get, and cheerleader Elle McClarin particularly is willing to do whatever it takes to have Kyle for herself, even if it involves threats and illegal activities. Will Kyle fall for the wild cheerleader, or will he prefer the more mature Chelsea?
Boy meets girl. Boy and girl have problems. Will boy and girl be able to overcome problems and stay together? Mary Flinn’s “The One”may have an old plot, but love is so important to our lives that when the story is well told as it is here, not only do we not mind reading once more a tale of lovers, but we find ourselves engrossed in the story. “The One” is the story of a young man and a young woman who find each other amid the craziness of the world, in this case, high school, and weather the storms together, be they the death of loved ones, or others determined to split them apart. In the end, they learn about themselves and the world around them while preparing to enter adulthood and the beginning of a committed relationship.
Flinn’s characters are mature and believable. Readers will sympathize with Kyle and Chelsea and hope their love will last. While the young lovers find themselves in some difficult situations, what is remarkable about the book’s atmosphere in many ways is the supporting cast of characters, family and friends who provide stability for Kyle and Chelsea. This supportive environment is one in which every young man and woman should be so lucky to be raised. While their lives are not perfect, Chelsea and Kyle find strength in one another, their families, their friends, their coaches, and teachers.
However, not all the characters are without their share of drama. Teenage drinking is involved and some wild and unacceptable behavior. Flinn wisely treats these topics realistically, not glamorizing the behaviors or morally condemning them. As a result, the characters are multi-faceted while the main characters are primarily responsible and good role models to young adults as evidenced by the community projects they pursue.
Set in North Carolina, where the author lives, “The One” perfectly captures a region and way of life. Readers may or may not be familiar with the area, but they will appreciate the realistic setting that reflects a teenager’s life in the early twenty-first century rather than becoming a stereotypical southern romance or a story that tries generically to appeal to a teen audience. Teenage readers will no doubt enjoy seeing characters similar to themselves, but adults will enjoy the book also. As a male reader, I found myself surprisingly invested in Kyle and Chelsea’s relationship, wanting them to be happy together because Flinn does such an expert job of developing her characters. I’m not a big fan of description, but Flinn knows how to describe a house, a cabin, a beach in ways that bring the setting to life and that keep it relevant to the story by using the settings to develop and reveal information about the characters.
Flinn’s writing has a grace and elegance, which coupled with the wedding toward the end—I won’t give away whose—reminds one more of Jane Austen than most recent romantic comedy films. The drama of the story is almost always on the sidelines, never becoming unbelievable or extreme, and the characters’ choices and actions all seem naturally to fall into place. I was both amazed by Flinn’s imaginative creation of a fictional world so that it felt so very real, and also impressed by how perfectly balanced the writing was so that it never went over the top. Flinn does not bite off more than she can chew but takes simple situations and draws out the nuances, the emotions, and the integrity of her characters. In that way, she is like Jane Austen, telling a simple story, with one or two obstacles to the main character’s love, but in the end, creating an ending completely satisfying for the reader. In short, the writing is sincere and believable because of it.
If you’ve never read a romance novel, this is “the one” to start with, and if you’re already a fan of romance, Mary Flinn is sure to be your new favorite author. I trust her pen will produce many more love stories.
For more information about Mary Flinn and “The One,” visit www.TheOneNovel.com
— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. and author of the award-winning “Narrow Lives”
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