There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones
October 4, 2011; Thomas Nelson
*I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Grief brought Finley to Ireland. LOVE WILL LEAD HER HOME.
Finley Sinclair is not your typical eighteen-year-old. She's witty, tough, and driven. With an upcoming interview at the Manhattan music conservatory, Finley needs to compose her audition piece. But her creativity disappeared with the death of her older brother, Will.
She decides to study abroad in Ireland so she can follow Will's travel journal. It's the place he felt closest to God, and she's hopeful being there will help her make peace over losing him. So she agrees to an exchange program and boards the plane.
Beckett Rush, teen heartthrob and Hollywood bad boy, is flying to Ireland to finish filming his latest vampire movie. On the flight, he meets Finley. She's the one girl who seems immune to his charm. Undeterred, Beckett convinces her to be his assistant in exchange for his help as a tour guide.
Once in Ireland, Finley starts to break down. The loss of her brother and the pressure of school, her audition, and whatever it is that is happening between her and Beckett, leads her to a new and dangerous vice. When is God going to show up for her in this emerald paradise?
Then she experiences something that radically changes her perspective on life. Could it be God convincing her that everything she's been looking for has been with her all along?(courtesy of Goodreads)
I went into There You'll Find Me looking for a light, fluffy escapist romance. I didn't care if it was realistic or perfectly written. I was looking for fun and sap and that's exactly what I got. Handsome uber famous teen idol movie star falls in love with an ordinary, pretty-but-not-too-pretty teenage girl? Who doesn't dream of that? (Actually, I think dating a movie star would be far from perfect, but I'm putting my rational mind aside for the moment).
Finley and Beckett are awesome characters. First off, they have fabulous names. Beckett especially - since that happens to be one of my favorite boy names. Finley is the type of girl who doesn't put on airs; what you see is what you get. She is funny, sarcastic, and kind. She is also very hard on herself. She is mourning her brother's death in a terrorist attack and is spending her year in Ireland trying to rediscover her brother, partly in hope that she can be as good as he is, as faithful as he is. But unless it's absolutely perfect, it's not good enough.
Beckett is as charming and funny as it gets. The star of a series of teenage vampire movies, I imagine him as a cross between Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner (Rob in looks and Taylor in personality). He has a jet-setting, gossip-column filled life, but we quickly realize that he is much more than that. Beckett doesn't want to be a silly teen idol. He wants to make movies that mean something and have faith in something more than him. Instead of surrounding himself by yes-men and drooly girls, he prefers to be near Finley, who spends most of her time being annoyed by him.
The banter and flirting between the characters was as cute as it gets. I loved how Beckett purposely called Finley by the wrong name, like "Flossie" and "Frannie." Beckett comes off as a little conceited, but it ends up reading as funny and even though Finley may be annoyed, the reader knows she'll succumb in the end:
"[Beckett] 'And as for girls who try to stay away from me - my charm always wears them down.'
[Finley] 'I'm up-to-date on my shots, so I'm pretty much immune to everything'"
Even better, Finley and Beckett fall in love by being friends and spending time together. How refreshing. Finley desperately wants to find a particular Celtic cross that her brother photographed. Beckett happily plays tour guide. And in return, Finley helps Beckett with lines. Her non-simpering attitude inspires him to be a better actor.
Ms. Jones' writing is easy to read and flows nicely. She came up with a good plot framework that provided reasons for Finley and Beckett's lives to intersect. A tad coincidental (okay, more than a tad), but it worked. Finley's host family was also a highlight. Her host mum and dad added a positive, strong parental influence to the book. Her host brother was adorable and her host sister was a great best friend type.
If you start thinking too much about the book, you can easily become annoyed. The Christian element, while not preachy, is too prevalent for my taste. Finley is a "normal" girl who also happens to be a hotel heiress who spent much of the past year partying (Hilton-style). Beckett's speech and mannerisms become progressively more Irish as the book goes on; oftentimes, he doesn't sound like a real teenager (i.e. "If I'm going to be your bloomin' tour guide..." - nobody below 80 says 'blooming').
Don't bother thinking while you're reading this book. You'll miss all the fun of a cute romance that progresses at a realistic pace with likable characters. There's a time and place for saccharine sweetness.