IT'S ALL HER MOM'S FAULT.
If she hadn't snooped into Karis's diary, she would never have found out that Karis went to a boy's house without permission. Now Karis is grounded, which means no modem, no iPod...and no cell phone. There's just no way a cute, popular, high-schooler can survive being cut off from the world, so Karis is forced to sneak around behind her mother's back. But the way she's acting makes Karis feel guilty—even if it is her mom's fault—and she doesn't like the feeling.
Her scheming is starting to cause other problems, too. Borrowing a friend's cell phone has turned into a catastrophe that may break up her oldest friendship, and the cutie she met after driver's ed is acting a little scary. Will the faith her mother has taught her be enough to help her find her way through this trouble...and show both the world and herself that she's a stronger, better person than even she ever knew?
Trouble in My Way is a thoroughly engrossing and realistic portrayal of how young people often see nothing wrong with bending the rules and trying to weasel out of punishment. I loved how the entire story was told from Karis's point of view. Karis doesn't see her faults, and compared to many kids, she really is pretty good. But she still finds trouble even when she tries to behave. She simply can't stand to be grounded all the time, so she sneaks behind her mother's back and does what she wants to do despite the restrictions. I did the very same thing when I was a teen. The more my parents tried to chokehold me, the harder I fought to get free. This is one of the reasons I don't do this with my teens, and you know what? They are really good kids. So being harder isn't always better. Listening is important as is praising them when they do the right thing. But I digress.
Karis reminds me so much of when I was young. Because when you're a teen think you know everything, but you are really quite naive. You think your decision is always the right one, but you only see one side of every issue. The author does a great job portraying the mother/daughter tension and the issues that come from being a child with divorced parents. I have seen this same scenario many times when counseling teens. The parents continue to tighten the screws and the teens just keep fighting everything. Unfortunately this oftentimes makes things worse. Like when Karis started to believe she might as well do the unthinkable since her mom always seems to think it of her anyway. Only Karis really did try to be good. And she prayed and did have faith. But when she put herself in difficult circumstances, she had to fight to keep safe. The world is a dangerous place, and Karis discovered that truth the hard way.
In the midst of her struggles, Karis learns some tough lessons. I love how the author let that play out so naturally that teen readers will have the benefit of learning the same lessons without getting themselves in the same situations that Karis had. The characterization was flawless, too. I remember the days when all that mattered was the guy was cute. The rest was irrelevant. But we adults all know many young people who married those messed up, but very good-looking men and they totally ruined their lives. That message is portrayed very well in this story, too. I highly recommend this book because unlike many YA novels, this one offers hope and shows how faith can make all the difference to a struggling teen.
Trouble in My Way is published by Pocket Books, a Division of Simon and Schuster, and will be on sale in November 2008.