Young Adult / General Fiction


Highschool & Up

Author’s Worldview


Year Published



God’s will, Vocations, Theology of the body, Power of prayer, Sin, Conversion, Spirituality, Humility, Trust, Forgiveness, Redemption


Reviewed by

S. Leigh Hall

This book is a part of Catholic Teen Books

Click to find out more

At the end of the last book, Jarret West responds to a life-shattering conversion in the desert when he hears the Lord speaking to him. Suddenly he knows that his life is worth more than the hateful deeds that he’s committed in the past. However back home, he struggles with the reputation he carefully cultivated through his high school years. He’s the cool, tough guy, but how does this gel with his desire to turn his life around?

In the meantime, twin brother Keefe West faces his own dilemma regarding God’s voice as he begins to simplify his life in imitation of the Franciscan Brothers he admires. He moves his extra bedroom furniture to the basement and establishes a prayer corner, but somehow that isn’t enough. Is God calling him to a religious vocation?

Standing Strong is the fourth book in the West Brothers Series. Another is scheduled for publication later this month, and I find myself desiring a writing workshop opportunity with the author, Theresa Linden. I want to learn how she continually develops a timely, interesting storyline while giving life to authentic characters so totally relatable to today’s teens.

All three of the brothers, including the youngest one Roland, struggle with life since the death of their mother and because of the frequent absences of their father. However, in Standing Strong, significant changes bring entirely new challenges. For one thing, Dad is no longer on the road. Suddenly he is home, keeping his eye on the boys without explaining why. The brothers find this confusing and speculate on what could be the problem with their father including the notion that he is possibly dying.

Then just as Jarret decides to change his behaviors to win the respect of his dad, he finds himself tempted by Chantelle, a girl who wants more than friendship. The old Jarret never hesitated when such an opportunity was presented, and though now he’s trying to listen to the voice of God, he isn’t quite sure how to maintain his resolve when God is no longer speaking so directly. Also, he finds it hard to control his temper, especially in regards to Peter, the friend of younger brother Roland, whose smelly trick of hiding Limburger cheese in Jarret’s car is still fueling the desire for revenge.

He wants to do the will of God but maintain his cool at school.  Such a possibility seems impossible following his rejection of Chantelle who then spreads rumors about him. Next, he is suspended from school for fighting with a fellow student who has been bullying Roland. Neither is conducive to rebuilding the father/son relationship.

In the meantime, Keefe lacks the courage to confess his interest in finding out more about the Franciscans to his father. He wants to attend a retreat to discern the Lord’s call but is wishy-washy in committing himself because his father doesn’t seem to care much about their Catholic faith. Or is he afraid the Franciscans won’t want him? Maybe he’s not good enough to be a religious? It becomes evident to Keefe that God is the one in charge and giving Him complete trust will lead Keefe to the answers he seeks.

Both boys find the answers they need in humbling ways that lead them to stand strong in their faith, and even to express the desire for their father to attend church with them as he did before his wife died.  Finally, in the end, the West brothers find out that Dad isn’t dying; he’s planning to remarry, promising another big change in the family’s future.

Despite my age that is way beyond that of a teen, I can’t wait to find out what happens next to the West Brothers! I’m ready to hear more about Roland and what challenges he faces as he matures. Once again, I emphasize the universality of Linden’s themes. Yes, the worldview is Catholic, but any teen or young adult will identify with the story and the people.


Most Highly Favored Daughter by Janice Palko

Her perfect life hides her city’s darkest secrets. Can Cara face the light of truth and come to understand real love?

For Eden’s Sake by T.M. Gaouette

Life is precious whether it’s planned or not.

Demons are Forever by Declan Finn

Marco flees from his fears of hurting Amanda by taking a job to train Vampire Hunters in San Francisco. Should be a quiet job right?

Freeing Tanner Rose by T.M. Gaouette

Hollywood Starlet meets Kung Fu Country boy with a God obsession.

Nephilim Corruption by Ann Margaret Lewis

Jedi Adventure meets Christian Epic

The Table by Dennis Lambert

A table built by the grandfather of Jesus Christ survives the darkest moment in history to bring peace to a widowed musician

A Life Decision by Laurie M. Lamb

When Joe and Peyton find out that their unborn baby may have Down Syndrome, they are faced with a devastating decision.

City of Shadows by Declan Finn

St. Tommy uncovers a group of elites using an ancient artifact to destroy London.

Finnian and the Seven Mountains (Vol. 1) by Philip Koslowski, Michael Lavoy, and Jim Fern

Join Finnian as his quest for a legendary sword takes him to the monks of Skellig Michael, a real life inspiration for the Jedi temple.

Someday by Corinna Turner

Ordinary schoolgirls face a terrible fate: abuse, forced marriages, and even death at the hands of Islamic extremists.

The River of Life by Diana González Tabbaa

The death of little Anthony’s father shakes his faith until a heaven-sent friend helps him find his way back to God.

Secrets Visible and Invisible, An Anthology 

Tales of courage, compassion and virtue in compelling and naturally engaging Y.A. short stories.

The Poppy and The Rose by Ashlee Cowles

While abroad in England, Taylor discovers a mystery linking her to an heiress and passenger aboard The Titanic.

Champion of Valdeor by Sandralena Hanley

Fed up with modern 1st person, present tense narratives bursting with ‘hip’ characters? Look no further!

Everything Old: Love in Anadauk Book 1 by Amanda Hamm

Two youth group leaders rekindle their friendship and find love with each other along the way.

Honor at Stake by Declan Finn

If you’re looking for a vampire-romance with a truly unique twist look no further.

Zeal & Zest: Where to Begin with Hillaire Belloc

Belloc was known as a Catholic polemicist with a vicious talent for skewering his opponents. Anyone struggling to persevere as a Christian in the fields of journalism or media should read him. His children’s books have an acerbic humor that will appeal to bored veterans of political correctness, especially teens.

Outlaws of Ravenhurst, by Sr. M. Imelda Wallace, S.L.

The 10-year-old heir of a noble Scottish family must choose between his inheritance and his Catholic faith.

Gifts Visible and Invisible

If you are looking for a cozy read to get into the Christmas cheer, this collection has it all.