Reviews for Right Where I Belong


Booklist Reviews 2012 November #2
When Natalia's father leaves Maureen, his third wife, the 17-year-old decides to stay with her stepmother, who has served as her spiritual advisor. The two move from Madrid back to Maureen's hometown in Florida. Here Natalia attends her senior year at Tampa Christian School and faces more trials than she expected (including Maureen's worsening depression), each of which calls into question God's purpose for her new life. Natalia meets cute, nice Brian, the pastor's son and fellow classmate, but she is determined to keep him at arm's length, believing Jesus is the only man I want in my life. Throughout, Natalia's internal musings (Why purposefully court temptation?)--as well as her short prayers to God--appear in italics. While the religion messages feel didactically delivered at times, it's the stiff, formal dialogue that is most problematic, as the characters come off feeling inauthentic. Still, girls looking for Christian YA will welcome McGee's third effort (Starring Me and First Date, both 2012), which is part chick lit and part deeper exploration of faith. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 November #1
A wholesome, if uninspired, exploration of the role of faith in helping a young woman find her place in the world. Seventeen-year-old Natalia has grown up in a wealthy household in Spain surrounded by money, luxury and ambition. It is not until her father marries his third wife, Maureen, that Natalia begins to investigate spirituality. When she becomes a Christian under Maureen's guidance, the two develop an intense bond. They become so close, in fact, that when Natalia learns that her father is filing for divorce, she actually decides to follow Maureen back home to Florida to provide moral support. Natalia enrolls in a Christian school where she meets and quickly falls for Brian, the pastor's son. But having seen her father destroy several marriages, Natalia has sworn off dating. So, she spends most of her time and energy trying to avoid her deepening feelings for Brian as well as figuring out what she wants to do--or rather what God wants her to do--after graduation. Sadly, Natalia, Brian and the supporting characters are rather flat, the discussions of spirituality feel contrived and the plot is nothing if not predictable. Not much in the way of general appeal here, but this one may suit teens on the hunt for overtly Christian-themed fiction sprinkled with a bit of (very chaste) romance. (Fiction. 12-16) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 November #3

When Natalia Lopez's father discards his third wife for another conquest, the disillusioned 17-year-old swears off dating and marriage, and accompanies her broken-hearted stepmother, Maureen, to Miami for a fresh start. Far from her native Spain, Natalia makes friends (including characters from the author's previous novels, First Date and Starring Me) and catches the eye of Spencer, the most popular and wealthy boy at her new school. It's class clown (and pastor's son) Brian Younger, however, who makes Natalia wonder whether God will hold her to her no-romance vow. The relationships--and the faith of some involved --grow as a very mature Natalia helps Maureen through a hard time, teaches immigrants at an ASL class, and finds her calling on a mission trip to Costa Rica. The squeaky-clean Christian school environment might cause a few eyes to roll, but an abundance of real-life problems like divorce, depression, fitting in at school, workaholic parents, and figuring out one's purpose in life should keep this story relevant for many teens, regardless of how important faith is to them. A guide for reader groups is included. Ages12-up. Agent: Jenni Burke, (Dec.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 January

Gr 8 Up--In this novel about faith and family, 17-year-old Natalia Lopez chooses to accompany her stepmother, Maureen, to Florida from Spain after her father, who has been married twice before, demands a divorce. His view of women is chauvinistic at best. Maureen is shattered by the split and Natalia feels closer to her than she does to her biological parents as Maureen has shared her time, love, and faith with her stepdaughter. The move is difficult for both of them; Maureen feels that her family and friends will consider her a failure and Natalia is trying to deal with culture shock and her stepmother's depression. Help comes for both of them through the students and staff of the Tampa Christian School Natalia attends and where Maureen reluctantly accepts a teaching position. The situations that Maureen, Natalia, and their friends face are universal: parental pressure, relationship problems, and confusion about the future. Natalia gets over her fear of love with the help of a cute and earnest pastor's son and Maureen finds her faith renewed. Unfortunately, the writing is uneven and often stilted, and the message is delivered with a very heavy hand. McGee seems not to trust that readers will be able to understand and empathize with the characters. The ending is a little too neat and completely unrealistic, leaving the impression that if one prays hard enough everything will work out as one wishes.--Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC

[Page 118]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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