There is a well-known saying that you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. This certainly rings true in the YA novel, Prosper by Lindsay Schuster (book one of the Prosper Series, which includes the subsequent books Redeemed and Journey).
Kaila, Amy, Jenny and Stephanie are longtime best friends. Now 16 and in high school, they are each dealing with very adult problems.
Kaila’s parents have died in a car accident, and her older brother, who was in the military, died not long after. She and her little sister, Karol, are now being taken care of by their aunt. Amy’s father is brutally abusive and his beatings send her to the hospital. Jenny’s mother left her and her father and brothers several years ago, leaving Jenny as the “woman of the house” and to bear the brunt of her father’s hurt and anger. Stephanie’s mother is an alcoholic, a drug addict and sexually promiscuous, and Stephanie has been repeatedly raped while in her mother’s care.
EMPHASIZING FRIENDSHIP AND FAITH
While each girl struggles with her own realities, they have each other to lean on. This is a story of true female friendship and its importance.
Prosper contains a Christian element as well, as Kaila turns to God and His love to help her deal with the loss of her parents and brother. Kaila tries to extend this same salvation to her friends, who are grasping for ways to deal with their own situations. Slowly, one by one, each girl comes to realize the part that God can play in her life.
The story is told from the perspective of each of the girls in alternating chapters of the first-person narrative. At first, this was a little hard to keep track of, but as you get to know the girls and their situations, it becomes easier and enhances the story as an effective method to help readers get to know each character intimately and care deeply about them.
STRUGGLES THAT PROVIDE PERSPECTIVE
Reading about what these girls have to go through in their lives and the obstacles they have to overcome can be painful to read at times, but it can also be helpful for readers in putting their own personal struggles into perspective. Their blossoming faith in God not only helps them deal with their current struggles but shows them the way to a future that’s theirs to create.
The girls’ relationship with each other is handled very realistically. They love each other, for sure, and are there for each other through it all, but even their friendships can be broken at times. They fight, get upset with each other, and work on how to best communicate throughout the book.
Young adult readers will enjoy immersing themselves in the lives of these determined and resilient girls who are each trying to find their way in the world with the love and support of their best friends. Ultimately, they are each able to find hope for the future. And if they can do it, so can we.
Visit Lindsay Schuster’s BookTrib author profile page here.