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4.5 stars for New Beginnings by Janet Olson #yalit #comingofage #bookreview

Title: New Beginnings

Author: Janet Olson

Genre: Young Adult

Book Blurb:

Ida and Engen's 13-year-old friendship is altered when the death of their friend comes between them. Engen, guilt-ridden over Janelle's passing, has become violent. Ida, in her grief, attempts to fill the loss with a one-night stand, which leaves her pregnant. As punishment, their parents force them to join a program called Youth of America Help a Nation, and they are sent to Africa on work assignments. Enter Lev Rosen, Ida's irresistible boss at the orphanage where she’s been appointed. Lev has his own connection with Ida, although she doesn't know it yet. Engen hoped the time away would give him the courage to finally tell Ida his true feelings for her, but how can he do that now that she is getting closer to Lev?

My Review:

I went into this book with no expectations and therefore, left with none fulfilled. The story appears to be about an older teen who is pregnant and off to a school-sponsored trip to Africa. The odd aspect of this is her family thought it was a bright idea to have her baby in Africa instead of Minnesota. Not casting aspersions in any way, but one would surmise pre and post-natal care is probably better in Minnesota.

The book is set in the year... I have no idea. I think it is loosely set in possibly the next decade and a half from now. That lack of clarity never allowed me to get fully engaged with the book.

Ida is a very hard to define character. She is the least naturally appealing lead character I have ever come across. It took the concerted attention of several males in the book for me to realize about halfway through that she was considered attractive. There is no defining aspect to Ida. She never really looks herself over in the mirror. The impression I got was a sad, introverted, quiet cipher of a person.

The overarching issue here is dealing with the passing of a best friend when you are young. The different reactions to this tragedy are well presented. There is no right way to grieve, there is just grief. The relationship between Emden and Ida is wrought with the loss of their third musketeer.

This is an important book for teenaged girls to read. New Beginnings is a clear example of the consequences of a thoughtless action and they can be severe. This book is well written in how it deals with the myriad characters and their interactions.

Lev came across to this reader as really nothing more than a glossy stalker. His single comment about Ida's lost friend should have meant he was kicked to the curb and NEVER considered as a human to Ida again. She is obviously a bigger person than I am. In my view, the ending of the book left more questions then simply being ‘to be continued’. I am not certain how the ending justified an ending. I am not certain what the ending means. A unique look at one girl's dealing with teen pregnancy.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Buy it Now:

Author Biography:

Janet lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her artist husband, charismatic son, and three neurotic cats. Janet is a lifelong fan of reading and writing stories. New Beginnings may be her debut novel, but she has several projects in the works. Unlike some of her characters, she has never been to Africa, although she does dream of going one day.

New Beginnings is book one in Janet’s new young adult trilogy. It explores themes of everlasting friendship, second chances, and redemption. Connect with relatably flawed characters in this coming of age dramatic series.

Follow Janet on Facebook, and on Instagram at

Social Media Links:

Reviewed by: Mr. N


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