Reviewed by M.S. Ocampo

“St Jude’s will be starting a young adult ministry on Fridays from 7 to 8:30PM…Join Gabriel Chadwick and Ruth Ziebert to discuss the inspiration and example of the saints.”

  • Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary, Romantic Comedy, Slice of Life
  • Audience: Young Adults
  • Author’s Worldview: Catholic
  • Themes: Communication, relationships, leadership, dating, friendship, family, youth groups, church community
  • Year Published: 2019

In the small town of Anadauk, Ohio, Ruth Zeibert is recruited to lead her parish’s young adult group. The only problem is that she has to work with Gabriel Chadwick and their relationship is complicated, due to a misunderstanding. Although Ruth and Gabe were friends and many people considered them a couple, they never had an honest conversation about how they actually felt. Gabe thinks that Ruth is more interested in his brother Eric and Ruth never worked up the nerve to ask Gabe how he feels about her or tell him her real feelings. As the two of them try to figure out how to keep a group of young adults coming to their weekly Friday night meetings, they also try to figure out how they can rebuild their friendship.

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This story is a slice-of-life young adult story that doesn’t follow any of the typical rom-com clichés. Instead, the friendship between Ruth and Gabriel grows naturally as they spend time together. Ruth is your typical girl next door and Gabriel is charming with his love of antiquated technology. He’s the only character in this modern novel that doesn’t use a smart phone. I really love that the book actually shows them spending time together, doing things like baking and talking about ideas for their Young Adult Group. 

The setting is very typical of a small town, where everyone knows each other and the young adult group that Gabriel and Ruth lead is a pretty typical one as well. There are times when the group is more focused on just making small talk, but it’s clear that they’re at least trying to figure out how being Catholic applies to their lives. 

As this book is part of a series, there are some plot threads regarding secondary characters, such as Ruth’s older brother Joseph, Ella, Jessica, and Sebastian. There is an implication that Joseph and Ella might have a thing for each other and that Sebastian has a bad reputation, allegedly assaulting someone, but those plot threads are never resolved. We can only hope to learn more about these people in future books because they’re not really in the limelight here. 

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I would recommend this story for fans of contemporary YA rom-coms. It’s a nice easy read, especially for the lovely spring and summer weather.