Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review: The Wishing Pearl by Nicole O'Dell (#1 in the Diamond Estates Series)

Title: The Wishing Pearl (Diamond Estates #1)
Author: Nicole O'Dell
Published by: Barbour Books (2011) 

My Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭

Wow. I just finished this book for the second time, and it was amazing! The characters are so vividly drawn, you feel like you know them, and it makes you happy to have such a long book with them. Rather than just a scene, you have over 300 pages—months and months in the storyline—with the characters that you come to love. ***MILD SPOILERS***

Plot: This series as a whole is a very mature set of books; it covers topics such as teen pregnancy in a later book, but they are incredibly clean, wholesome, and appropriate, not to mention totally Christian books (which I am incredibly grateful for).  This book focuses on sixteen-year-old Olivia Mansfield. Her father died in a car accident years ago, and ever since she’s been dealing with her stepfather’s horrid abuse. When it becomes too much, she turns to smoking, alcohol, etc. Only when her so-called best friend, Jordyn, dies in a car accident does she start to see the truth of the horrible life she’s been living. When offered a place at Diamond Estates, a place for troubled girls to come find healing in Christ, she accepts, and the path to recovery begins.

Setting/Themes: I loved so many things about this book. Besides the characters being amazing in every sense, I also loved the setting the author chose. Diamond Estates is painted so beautifully, with its mission being so incredible, that you just want to just believe it exists in real life. I loved how the author wrote in Ben and Alicia’s characters as the guys to look to when you need help, but also the fun leaders, wanting ultimately the best for the girls there. I loved the way the Christian message was so clear in the narrative perspective, but Olivia still takes some convincing. Some people find this kind of stuff cheesy, but I found this book realistic and believable. 

Characters: Olivia was such a fun character, easy to love, easy to relate to, easy to think she actually exists. The book is written in third person, but we enter Olivia’s mind so much that I often forgot and thought it was from first person! You really find yourself understanding Olivia after just a few chapters and while you want to shout at her, “No! Why are you doing that? Don’t do that!” you also, at the same time, understand her thought process behind it—which makes the Diamond Estates section of the book so much more amazing, especially when Olivia turns her life around. You feel you can connect with her so well—when she’s worried, you’re worried. She’s scared, your heart starts racing. She’s happy, you smile.

I loved Ju-Ju, Skye, and Tricia, Olivia’s roommates, as well; they were painted just perfectly: your average fun-loving teenagers, great friends, and such fun personalities that you don’t even want to know why they’re at Diamond Estates. The four of them just slid together as friends, and you can’t help but cheer on their friendship.

Ending: The ending was phenomenal, too. I loved the way it all played out, and the way it just all fit together perfectly once Olivia just let go and trusted God. Though generally I’m not a fan of teenage romance, the little bit of love that creeps between Olivia and Justin is clean, wholesome, and easy to encourage, especially once the ending arrives. The difference between this kind of love and the romance you see in novels today is that this isn’t the kind of kissing-every-minute, somewhat-inappropriate romance. It’s just simply there, in the background, a bit of attraction, and as you get to know Justin’s character, you just know they are truly in love, not just random love that might not last. (Pss—you’ll see more of Olivia and Justin in the second and third books.)

Anyway, to sum it up, an amazing, incredible book by an extremely talented author. One of my all-time favorites and I’d recommend it for ages 13 & up.

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