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In Essence of Lilly, Lilly will do anything to avoid being at him, including making up youth group events to hang out with her boyfriend Jason. But when Jason wants her to lie to her parents about an overnight church retreat so she can stay over his house without a chaperone, what will she do? You decide the course-make the wrong decision and discover the life-changing consequence that comes with it.
Number of Pages: 352
Vendor: Barbour Publishing
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 8.00 X 5.19 X 1.00 (inches)
Series: Scenarios for Girls
Decisions, decisions! How is a girl supposed to choose? Lessons of right and wrong are put to the test in the Scenarios series, where you can test your decision-making abilities in an eye-opening, but safe, way. Each book follows a character up to the point where she has to make an important, life-changing decision—then it’s your turn to choose. Will your choices lead to a happy ending?
In High Stakes, Brittany and Amber are the best of friends and what starts out as a seemingly friendly competition turns into a head-on battle for the prize. Amber especially feels she deserves the car since her family has been having financial issues with her dad's unemployment. Meanwhile, Brittany’s dad keeps getting promoted, and she always seems to have the trendiest clothes and techie toys. After a heated argument over who should deserve to win the car, a very hurt Amber cheats on the final exams—and Brittany is accidentally framed for it. Should Amber confess to the cheating and save her best friend from taking the fall? Or should she wait it out and get the car that she feels both she and her family deserve?
Throughout High Stakes, the dialogue at times can take on a blunt, cheesy feel, and the action doesn’t always seem relevant. However, the characters themselves have enough personality to make the story interesting and the issues of cheating and financial struggle are relatable to many readers.
O'Dell's second novel within the same published book, Essence of Lilly, takes the reader onto the love-torn battlefield of high school, as sophomore Lilly tries to survive a crumbling family and find healing through her boyfriend, Jason. But how truly untarnished is her hero’s shining armor?
When Lilly wants to escape from the constant arguing and emotional abuse in her own home, sweet and caring Jason seems like an answer to her prayers. But what starts as a white lie, telling her parents that she and Jason are going to a youth group all-nighter, quickly spirals down into a dangerous situation as they are alone in his house. Jason knows where Lilly wants to draw her physical boundaries, but he always seems to be pushing for more. After a few drinks of alcohol, Lilly isn't so sure she minds. But how far is too far?
Essence of Lilly very realistically portrays the struggle for purity during teen years and excellently addresses a relevant issue for young people today. The characters are very relatable and the situations, sadly enough, probably hit home for many teens. This novel, however, also brings to the light the hope and healing we have in Christ even when we have fallen away from God's commands. Ephesians 1:7 states, "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace."
While High Stakes at times presents weak dialogue and action, in the end, both novels in Nicole O'Dell's Swept Away series confront the reader with very real situations through very lovable characters. I would recommend this series for middle and high-school-aged girls, especially as a wonderful teaching and character building tool. As for how the stories end? You'll just have to choose for yourself and see. – Lyndsey Gammage, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Joyce5 Stars Out Of 5Great help in decision makingAugust 23, 2011JoyceQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5I loved [Swept Away] and can hardly wait to get it into my granddaughter's hands. It is so important for young girls to be able to read these and see the options, BEFORE they are faced with the real issues in life. I believe reading the books will greatly influence their personal decisions and possibly divert them from a lot of hurt they might have experienced had they not read of consequences others had to deal with and the rewards received due to making good decisions.
These books are a way of planting good seeds in their minds to prepare them for more success in their futures and who of us do not want to do that for our loved ones? I have thoroughly enjoyed the six books I have read of Nicole's, even though I am older. I have learned things from them as well. I look forward to her next works.
Berni CFoosland, ILAge: 45-54Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5A great fresh look at YA fiction!August 22, 2011Berni CFoosland, ILAge: 45-54Gender: femaleNicole O'Dell captures the angst of teenage girls beautifully. She creates very real, likable young girls, with true-to-life dilemmas to face. A great read for teenage girls everywhere. The alternate endings are a fresh approach. I love the fact that when the girls make the wrong choice, there are consequences, but the reader is assured that all is not lost. There is still forgiveness, and hope. I wish these books were around when my daughter was a teen! I plan to pass Swept Away down to my teenage nieces, and I look forward to reading more of the series!
Carolyn5 Stars Out Of 5Swept away by Swept AwayAugust 22, 2011CarolynQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Been waiting for the next books in the Scenarios Series. Was not disappointed in the stories or issues covered in Swept Away. Nicole swept me away as I followed the characters and their dilemma's. All six stories, now 3 books, have dealt with issues faced by tweens/teens every day. She has handled the subjects beautifully and allowed the reader to be interactively involved in the story. The books are ingenious in the way they ask the reader to make the tough moral decisions. It gives the reader the opportunity to feel the weight of the consequences. I've read all of these books and I believe that each issue dealt with a necessary issue facing the tween/teens of today.......and tomorrow.
I've purchased many of the books and donated some to my church youth library and many I gave as gifts to the daughters of many friends. All have asked repeatly when the next book/s would be released. They are so excited that books 5 & 6 are now available. To anyone out there, these books are great gifts for young girls that you love and want to see make the right decisions. They prepare them before they're faced with the issues.
Swept Away was wonderful and dealt with a little more mature subject that a lot of Christian writers run from.
Way to go Nicole.
Cara PutmanIndianaAge: 35-44Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5My Daughter Squealed when this Book ArrivedJuly 8, 2011Cara PutmanIndianaAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5My almost 11 y.o. LOVES the Scenario books. Yes, I capitalized on purpose because that almost captures her enthusiasm for this series. When this book arrived, she literally peeled it from my hands and ran upstairs to start reading. Why does she love these books? Because she loves being the character and choosing the outcome. She'll select the wrong choice, and then go back and make the right choice. It leads to great conversations as we talk about what makes one choice better than the other.
For this 2-in-1, the girls face touch choices about sex and cheating for what looks like a good reason. I wasn't 100% sure my daughter was ready for the sex story, but I was wrong. This truly gave us good opportunities to have some needed girl talk. And Nicole handles the issue in a sensitive yet real way. The consequences are real and laid out for readers to weigh. How much better to consider what she would do now rather than in a few years when the pressure is on.
Please get these books for the tween girls in your life. They are wonderful stories with a purpose.
ValerieBC, CanadaAge: 45-54Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Totally UniqueJuly 4, 2011ValerieBC, CanadaAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5What's a girl to do when faced with big decisions?
High school seniors Amber and Brittany have been best friends forever, but only one of them can win the car for perfect attendance and top grades. At first the competition is good-natured, but Amber is determined to win. After all, their family car is on its last wheels and her dad lost his job. She needs the prize more than Brittany does. Why can't her so-called best friend concede and let her win? When Amber discovers the perfect way to make it happen, what will she choose? High Stakes offers two endings as the reader follows Amber's two possible choices.
In Essence of Lilly, no one understands sophomore Lilly like her boyfriend, Jason. Certainly not Lilly's mom or stepdad. She begins pretending youth group activities so she can spend more time with her boyfriend. Soon she's inventing a sleepover on a weekend when Jason's parents are away. Will Lilly go through with it? Or will she choose purity after all? Again, the story offers two endings to explore the results of each choice.
These two novellas are offered in one volume as Swept Away, volumes five and six in the Scenarios for Girls interactive series. Four previously published stories have been re-released as two-for-ones as well. Dare to be Different contains the stories Truth or Dare and All That Glitters. Risky Business contains Magna and Making Waves. Each story deals with issues from self esteem to stealing to drugs to peer pressure in a format that allows tween/teen girls to see the repercussions of their choices-hopefully before they face similar situations in their own lives.
This is a totally unique fiction concept and, as one of Nicole's critique partners, I've been thrilled to be part of the the journey with her. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these stories to any tween/young teen girls.
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