This Christian romance novel by Robin Jones Gunn is a compilation of the three books in "The College Years" series. It is written for teens ages 13 to 17 and published by Bethany House. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Christy Miller has been friends with Todd Spencer for over five years. In fact, he gave her a "Forever" bracelet years ago as a symbol of their friendship. But Christy wants more. As she travels across Europe for three weeks with Todd and her best friend, Katie Weldon, Christy wonders if she and Todd will ever move forward in their relationship. At the end of their journey, Todd tells Christy he loves her. But Christy feels she can't say she loves him back until she knows it in the depths of her heart. Christy realizes that she loves Todd during a youth group retreat to the desert. But before she has a chance to tell him, Todd is involved in a terrible car wreck that leaves his body permanently scarred. Christy tells Todd that she loves him over and over while he is unconscious in the hospital. She finally gets a chance to reveal her feelings for him coherently during a breakfast picnic on the beach. Christy thinks that once she admits she loves him, Todd will get down on his knee and ask her to marry him. But he doesn't. Weeks go by and Christy wonders when Todd will ask her. Shortly before Christmas break, as they gather with their college friends at a local restaurant, Todd pops the question, and Christy says yes. The next six months are filled with excitement and frustration as Christy and Todd make wedding plans and realize their differences. They rely on God to draw them closer to Him and closer to each other as they prepare for their future together.
Todd, Christy, Katie and their friend Antonio sing worship songs around a campfire in Italy. During their trip across Europe, the four friends witness to Marcos, Antonio's cousin, who is not a follower of Christ. Marcos gives his life to the Lord after reading the book of Romans, which Katie tells him was written specifically for his people, the Italians. In Rome, Todd, Christy and Katie see the Mamertine Prison, where the apostle Paul was once held captive. Marcos explains that Emperor Nero used to burn Christians alive on poles to light his garden parties. Christy contemplates how those people had been martyred for their faith and wonders if she would choose Christ in a life-or-death situation. Back at school, Christy tries to read her Bible and pray every morning. Her 13-year-old brother, David, gives his life to Christ after Todd's accident. Although she was baptized as an infant, Christy decides to be baptized as an adult as a visible symbol of her commitment to Christ. Todd, Christy, David and Christy's Uncle Bob continually witness to her Aunt Marti, who is not a believer. As they prepare for their wedding, Todd and Christy discover how the church is the bride of Christ.
Todd gets a job as a youth director at a local church. Because the teens have not experienced faithful leadership in the past, they are wary of Todd at first, but eventually warm up to him. Aunt Marti wants to take part in planning every detail of Christy and Todd's wedding. Christy refuses to believe that she is becoming more and more like her organized, yet controlling aunt.
While in Switzerland, Katie tells Christy of a Norwegian legend that says if you pick seven wild flowers and sleep with them under your pillow on Midsummer's Eve, you'll dream of the person you'll marry. Back in California, Aunt Marti joins a group of artists called The Colony and plans to run away to New Mexico with the leader.
A young American man named Jade asks Christy to go to a dance club with him while they are visiting Denmark. She turns him down, and he leaves. A few minutes later, Katie smiles at the shadow behind Christy and tells the man to kiss Christy, which he does. Thinking Jade is behind her, Christy flings hot tea in his face. It turns out not to be Jade, but Todd. Months later, Todd gets into a bad car accident that cuts his hands and leaves him scarred.
Todd and Christy's kisses become more frequent as their relationship grows more serious, though they make a point to keep their kisses quick and in public. Through Marcos' connections with the hotel owner, Todd and Christy secure the nicest suite in the Villa Paradiso in Italy. However, they decide that it wouldn't be right for the two of them to stay there alone. Todd gives Christy a long and passionate kiss before jumping on a train to the Arctic Circle; Christy resolves to save her kisses for her future husband. When Todd opens up about his past, he tells Christy that he and his dad lived with his dad's girlfriend on the Hawaiian island of Maui. After they become engaged, Todd and Christy vaguely talk about giving themselves to each other for the first time on their wedding night, but then they decide not to discuss it again until they are married. Todd says that waiting until marriage to have sex is like sitting at a long red light and waiting until the light turns green on your wedding day.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.