Has To Be Love

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Albert Whitman & Company

Previously read by the same author:
The Summer I Found You
Stronger Than You Know


Years ago, Clara survived a vicious bear attack. She’s used to getting sympathetic looks around town, but meeting strangers is a different story. Yet her dreams go far beyond Knik, Alaska, and now she’s got a secret that’s both thrilling and terrifying–an acceptance letter from Columbia University. But it turns out her scars aren’t as fixable as she hoped, and when her boyfriend begins to press for a forever commitment, she has second thoughts about New York. Then Rhodes, a student teacher in her English class, forces her to acknowledge her writing talent, and everything becomes even more confusing–especially with the feelings she’s starting to have about him. Now all Clara wants to do is hide from the tough choices she has to make. When her world comes crashing down around her, Clara has to confront her problems and find her way to a decision. Will she choose the life of her dreams or the life that someone she loves has chosen? Which choice is scarier?


I have really enjoyed Jolene Perry’s writing, so when I noticed her latest book Has To Be Love, up on NetGalley, I had to download it. I have read the previous two books Jolene Perry has had published, so I was expecting a touching read. The synopsis that I read was not the synopsis included within this blog post. It didn’t mention our main protagonist Clara, being a survivor of a bear attack, so that was a surprise to me! I’m pleased to see that it is now included, as I think it’s such an important part of this story.

Clara has survived a bear attack which unfortunately killed her mother. Clara has severe scarring to her face. She is understandably very self conscious about the marks on her face. Clara has a dream to go to Columbia University (the University that her mother went to and adored) to study writing. Clara doesn’t expect to get in, but does, and wants to see if she can get her scars fixed before she goes. She can’t imagine how it will feel to have strangers looking at her scars. Clara has a boyfriend who she has known before the bear attack who absolutely adores her. He sees a future with her and wants to commit to her. He doesn’t know about her University offer. Rhodes, a student teacher from Columbia University, is introduced to Clara by her father. Rhodes compliments Clara’s writing talent. Clara has to make a choice between her dreams or a stable life with her very committed, loving boyfriend.

I did enjoy reading this story, and thought Jolene Perry portrayed Clara’s emotions and struggles is a believable way. I also enjoyed reading how Clara’s religious beliefs (she was Mormon) contradicted a lot of her feelings. With Mormon being the religion represented in this book, Has To Be Love did have quite a strong religious undertone, yet it didn’t feel like it was thrown into the reader’s face. It certainly didn’t come across as preachy, which some books with a strong religious undertone can.

I think the reason why I didn’t get on with this book as much as Jolene’s previous two, is that I didn’t feel an emotional connection to Clara. I did sympathise with what had happened to her, but for some reason didn’t really ‘get’ her. I still think this book is well worth reading, I just didn’t like it as much as her previous releases.

Would I recommend it?:

Not my favourite by this author, but a decent read nonetheless! 


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