Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Invaluable by Holly J. Wood

Invaluable by Holly J. Wood
Food to Eat While Reading: Invaluable Rainbow Jello

Help Wanted.  Sixteen-year-old girl seeks advice on how to reach out to a sister who has become distant; how to make up with my best friend, who spends every moment with her new boyfriend; how to avoid losing my job over working on Sundays; and how to figure out who has been putting love notes in my locker. 

Applicants are also required to provide advice on how to handle being head-over-heels for my prom date's best friend--who happens to be the hottest guy in school.

Math tutoring a plus. 

Interested persons may contact Eliza Moore

Sound like a tall order? Well that is what Eliza Morre is up against during her sophomore year of high school.  But when her great-grandmother begins visiting Eliza in her dreams, everything starts to change. These dreams take Eliza back in time to see extraordinary women who help teach her about eight important values. As ELiza learns more about these women and the values they lived by, she discovers the courage and confidence she needs to faceher challenges-and her secret admirer.

Invaluable has a more limited readership than some of the books I recommend, due to its target audience of Latter-Day Saint young women. The reason why I am recommending it to all readers is because I feel strongly about the values that are taught in the book, namely, faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good work, integrity, and virtue. Wouldn't you love for every young woman in your life to understand and value those attributes?

I have to let you in on a surprising coincidence. One of my dear friends told me her sister-in-law was writing a book and asked if I would be willing to review it when it was published. Of course I agreed and when Holly mailed the book to me, I was thrilled to find out that she lives not only in the same town that I'll be moving to in a few months, but she will be just down the street from me. I'm excited to be neighbors with another bookie!

Having said that, I want to assure you that my reviews are impartial. I will always tell you what I liked/disliked about the books that I read. I hope that Holly will be thick skinned and understand why I lump the bad with the good, especially since I hope that we will be great friends. 

My favorite books have a moral or teach a lesson and Invaluable does just that.  t takes the young women values and teaches them through examples of women in the scriptures and also through the eyes of a teen.  At times the teaching was a bit "preachy" for my tastes--especially when Eliza began spouting speeches that sounded like they were right out of a teacher's manual.  But once I accepted the style, I found myself learning so much about the values. I'm not sure I've ever really understood exactly what virtue or integrity are. I've always used them interchangeably. Now I can understand the difference. 

I love Eliza's voice. The best parts of the book are the high school scenes when she is struggling with who she should be with or what is nagging her best friend. I have to admit that during the night dreaming lessons I couldn't wait to get back to the "real" story. I was glad to see that later lessons were condensed in a way that I was spared too many details about each of the eight visitations, but still experienced the wonder and value of what was being taught. 

For each value learned, Eliza finds a token to match--for instance, a white mustard seed for the value of faith.  This is a nice touch and I loved hunting through each day with Eliza for the token.

The relationship between Eliza and her sister is strained and she is able to help her.  I love this idea of sisterhood and the way the girls become friends again.  I do wish it had been a bit more subtle--it felt like somehow Eliza's sister was magically cured of rebellion and therefore it didn't quite seem real.

The story flows naturally and is an effortless read. I found myself wanting to find out what would happen with both the love triangle and the dreamed lessons.

Invaluable has the best of both worlds--the fun of romance with the values a girl needs to survive the dating years. 

Published December 10, 2011 by Deseret Book Company
*I received only a copy of the book as compensation for my review.


Leave me a comment-I'd love to hear what you think!