Leesie is a good girl: intelligent, studious, and devoted to her Mormon religion. She plays by the rules, forbidding herself to fall in love with a non-Mormon or have sex until marriage. She dreams of leaving her small town, where hormonal teenage boys harass her for being so virtuous, so she can attend Birmingham Young University, a place where her morals will be valued by the other students.
It seems as if nothing could stand in her way of achieving that dream until she meets Michael, the new boy at school who hides himself underneath a cold exterior. He is a scuba diver from Florida, and his parents died when their boat was capsized during a hurricane, a hurricane that haunts him every day.
Leesie is strangely attracted to him, drawn to the idea of saving a lost soul. Michael no longer believes in God, especially not one who could so violently rip his parents away from him. The truth is, Michael blames himself for being the only survivor of the hurricane, and he sinks into a dark depression. He longs to dive again, but the doctors warn that it would be too dangerous for him after the accident.
The only light in his world is Leesie, and he is mesmerized by her beauty and purity. However, Michael does not have much respect for Leesie’s strict beliefs, constantly encouraging her to stray farther from them. Leesie wants to maintain her self-respect, but the temptation is strong. Michael’s constant mood swings aren’t much help, and his desire to try diving again begins to pull the young lovers apart.
The result is the ultimate test of faith: Should Leesie remain true to her religious morals or follow her heart with Michael?
This novel is beautifully pieced together through alternating viewpoints from Leesie’s poetry diary and Michael’s dive log, along with instant messages from both. The reader is allowed to watch the story from afar, but also get inside each character’s head. It’s hard not to pity Michael as he becomes numbed by grief, although it’s frustrating to watch him constantly hurt Leesie.
On the other hand, Leesie’s self-righteous attitude is at times annoying, but her dilemma is completely understandable. The author passes no judgment on either character, instead allowing readers to choose a side.
What makes the story so impossible to forget is the depth of the love story. The attraction between Leesie and Michael is more than just a passing fling; It’s a passionate desire that both heals and destroys, and burns so intensely that it’s truly heartbreaking to watch it become extinguished.
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