Author: Amy Clipston
Release date: March 10th 2011
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
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Emily Curtis is used to dealing with her problems while under the hood of an old Chevy, but when her mom dies, Emily's world seems shaken beyond repair. Driven from home by hospital bills they can't pay, Emily and her dad move in with his wealthy sister, who intends to make her niece more feminine---in other words, just like Whitney, Emily's perfect cousin. But when Emily hears the engine of a 1970 Dodge Challenger, and sees the cute gearhead, Zander, next door, things seem to be looking up. But even working alongside Zander can't completely fix the hole in Emily's life. Ever since her mom died, Emily hasn't been able to pray, and no one---not even Zander---seems to understand. But sometimes the help you need can come from the person you least expect.My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I ordered Roadside Assistance about half a year ago. I thought it would be about a road trip (don't ask me why - I guess it was just the title), and grief and romance. (I know, I really need to work on actually reading the synopsis carefully before getting excited about books.) Somehow, I completely missed the 'Emily hasn't been able to pray'-part of the description. And then the book arrived. I took a look at the back of the book, where there's an 'About the Author' section, and saw that Amy Clipston is an Amish author who writes Christian fiction. I re-read the description and noticed the religion-aspect. And then I put it straight to the bottom of my TBR-pile.
I'm sorry, but I don't usually like books focusing on religion. I feel bad about it, but knowing Roadside Assistance is Christian fiction made me dismiss it pretty quickly; I didn't want to read it anymore. I figured it was going to be preachy, about how God will help you no matter what, blah blah blah. But this summer, I'm trying to read all those books that have been on my TBR-pile forever, so I gave Roadside Assistance a try anyways. And it was better than I'd thought it would be!
I didn't mind the religion aspect as much as I'd thought I would. Emily struggles with faith and isn't sure whether she believes anymore, and since the book is written entirely from her POV, that storyline is very easy to relate to. Sure, there are a lot of characters in the book that are preachy and pushy about their beliefs, but those are always described along with Emily's skepticism. Emily's personal struggle with religion turned out to be interesting to read about.
But still, I found Roadside Assistance a little too preachy. The overall message is definitely preachy, even if the MC isn't sure she believes. It just bugged me a bit how every single character in the book is Christian, and there are no other worldviews represented. It seemed a little too convenient that every single character told her to trust God. The message, saying God is everything you need and will get you through anything... I'm sorry, I don't want to start a discussion on religion or anything, but messages like 'trust in God, and all your problems will go away' just don't sit right with me.
Sorry for going off about religion there; this book does have other storylines, too! So, the characters. I started out liking Emily - like I said, I could relate to her in the religion-aspect, and I like that she's somewhat of a tomboy. There are not enough tomboy-ish girls in YA! I really like how unique she is and spends most of her time fixing cars (even if it's something I'm not exactly interested in myself). I had some problems with her, too, though. The whole she-doesn't-know-how-beautiful-she-is aspect is a little overdone, in my opinion. Emily's melodramatic whining bugged me - every one around her is trying to be helpful, and she just can't see it. That's resolved towards the end, though, so I guess it works.
The secondary characters are good, except the already mentioned lack of religious diversity. I really liked Whitney and getting to know her, looking under the surface. I liked Emily's dad, too - I always love reading about a healthy relationship between the MC and her parents. Then there's Zander. The romance is pretty good. I found it a little too convenient in the beginning; of course there's a boy living next door who happens to be totally into cars and also happens to like Emily right away. But except for the predictable set-up, I did like reading about Emily and Zander's relationship - they're definitely cute together.
I know my review sounds pretty negative, but I really did enjoy Roadside Assistance. I didn't love it, because of my issues with the way religion is handled, and because of some parts of the plot that seemed contrived, but it's not a bad book. It's a nice story of grief and letting go. If you think you won't mind the religion-aspect, I recommend you give this book a chance, but if preaching bugs you a lot, Roadside Assistance probably isn't for you.
What do you think of religious books? Do you steer clear of books dealing with religion, or do you enjoy authors trying to tackle this issue?