Love and Self Discovery by Samantha Fischer is a raw, emotional look into the life of a teen struggling with her sexuality and a thought-provoking read for Christian parents.
I struggled for some time to decide how to write this review. On the one hand, I fundamentally disagree with the story’s take on sexual morality, and I questioned whether I can, in good conscience, post a positive review of a book that states immorality as objective fact. On the other hand, the story is well-written and painfully realistic, and it made me think. A lot. That is, in essence, why I read – to think. To learn. To grow. Ultimately, this book caused me to grow, and so for that reason I decided to share my thoughts.
The story focuses on Adama, a senior at a conservative Christian high school, who begins to question her sexuality. Unable to discuss the issue with her parents, classmates, or anyone at her school because they all believe homosexuals go straight to hell, Adama turns to anonymous Tumblr users for help. As the story unfolds, we see Adama’s (seemingly short) journey of self-discovery, her venture into love, and the challenges and consequences her decisions bring.
Ultimately, the story hits home for me as a parent, and more specifically as a Christian parent. Adama’s parents—and her entire community—fail her immensely. The specifics of the story involve sexual orientation, but it takes little stretch of the imagination to extrapolate to any moral issue. Her parents are so rigid in their beliefs that they effectively close the door to communication with their daughter, and they greet Adama’s moral missteps with condemnation rather than love. As a result, she seeks—and finds—knowledge and guidance elsewhere. At the end of the story, the author includes a dedication “to the thousands of LGBT youth who face rejection by family and friends,” and reminds them that “there is a way out and that there are those who care about [them] and will help [them].”
Reading this story made me think seriously about how I would react if Adama were my child. Do I create an environment and espouse beliefs that would lead my daughters to feel comfortable talking to me about their thoughts and feelings, even if they knew I disagreed? The story illuminated the potential consequences of mishandling such a situation as a parent, which, I think, was part of the author’s point. The lesson for me and, I think, for Christian parents in general, is to avoid repeating those mistakes. Hold to our moral values, and teach them from a place that is rooted in Christ’s love, not human condemnation. Guide our children spiritually and morally without imposing our beliefs in a manner that leaves no room for questioning or discussion. Hold the door to communication with our children wide open. Strive to create an environment in which our children trust us, feel secure in our love, and know that even should their actions, thoughts, or beliefs differ from ours, we will never turn them away. It’s a tall task.
Rating – 3 stars
**Thank you to author Samantha Fischer for providing a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.