April 26, 2010

"Finding Paradise" by Michele Ashman Bell

Title: Finding Paradise
Author: Michele Ashman Bell
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Year: 2004
Pages: 249
Plot (from cover):
"Welcome to sunny Cancun. The only problem is that Morgan Rose would rather be sitting at home than hanging out with her best friend's parents in an exotic vacation resort full of couples on romantic getaways. She's decided to perform her Maid-of-Honor duties at Samantha's wedding and catch the next flight back to her predictable life.
Then she meets Justin, the groom's best man. At first she finds him annoying - cute, but annoying. But soon she realizes that there is much more to this good-looking man than his fun-loving exterior suggests. When their brief time together ends, they promise to keep in touch and, more importantly, to meet again six months later to see if their attraction has any lasting possibilities, But time has  away of complicating even the most beautiful beginnings, and Morgan will son be forced to make a difficult decision that could change the course of her life."

When I first started reading this book, the main character, Morgan, really bothered me. I honestly didn't think I could make it through the book. She was completely close-minding, rude, boring, and a total pessimist... she was basically my worst enemy, I can't STAND people like that. Plus, it was your typical cheesy Mormon story line. Maybe it's the fact that I am Mormon so it just sounded cheesy to me, but it really was. 
In the story, Morgan's best friend Samantha, who used to be Mormon but stopped going to church once she met her fiance, Trevor, is getting married on the beach in Cancun. Morgan would rather be at work than on a vacation, she "just didn't agree with their marriage". So she decides to relax a little bit and then head home to San Fransico right after the wedding. Then she meets Justin, Trevor's best man. He's handsome, charming, interesting, but apparently not Mormon. She hardly gives him the time of day because of it (BIGGEST PET PEEVE!). But then they end up spending the day together and things start to change. Morgan is basically the biggest pansy in the entire world and is dead set on never trying new things. But Justin is adventurous and fun and his thrill of life intrigues her, so he talks her into swimming in a cave and hiking up ancient ruins; things she would never do. Spending time with him makes her realize how much she had been missing out in life and something inside her starts to change. 
On the bus ride back to the hotel from all their adventures, Morgan finds out that Justin is indeed Mormon, she had just assumed he wasn't since all of his friends weren't. After that day they end up spending everyday together, she even stays the whole week instead of going home early. He is sweet, and kind, and charming, and best of all adventurous. You honestly can't help falling in love with him when reading, he is pretty much the perfect guy. This was my favorite part of the book, their week spent together in Cancun.
But then the romantic week ends and they go their separate ways; Morgan home to California where she is a librarian, and Justin to Brazil where he is building a new business with the people he spent a lot of time with on his LDS mission. They promise to meet six months later at a restaurant in San Fransico and also to meet as often as possible in between. 
Morgan lives for his emails, and they come everyday if not more. But then several hurricanes and storms blow through Brazil, knocking out power, internet towers, and cell phone service. Justin stays in Brazil to help his friend rebuild their village and get back on their feet. Just when he thinks he can go home to the States, another storm hits, causing him to stay for several more months. All the while, Morgan waits and waits for him to get in touch with her. Then her old boyfriend, Manny, enters the picture. He is a cute guy, very smart and kind and loving. They end up going on a few dates and spending more time with each other, but Justin is always in the back of her mind. She can't figure out why he hasn't gotten a hold of her and she starts to doubt his feelings for her, pushing her closer to Manny.
She has a huge decision to make and really struggles making up her mind. It seemed like everything in her life was pulling her one way, while her heart was taking her in the complete opposite direction. 

This book was all about finding who you are and living life to the fullest. It was also about following your heart and facing tough decisions head on. 

In all honestly, I actually liked this book. It gave me hope that someday I'll find someone like Justin, because he was basically everything I have ever wanted in a guy. I have to admit, Morgan really bugged me a lot of the times. I know that if she were a real person we would not get along at all, but it was really neat to see her character grow from the boring, predictable, stubborn pushover into an independent, fun, daring, take charge kind of person.

My Grade: A-


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