Just after junior Francine “CeCe” Wells’s first sexual experience, her boyfriend, Ethan, breaks up with her and announces that he is headed to Christian-focused Camp Three SixTeen to restore his virginity. Desperate to hold onto Ethan, CeCe enrolls at the three-week camp, too, even though she’s not a Christian and doesn’t plan to become one. CeCe’s best friend and next-door neighbor, Paul, a veteran of the camp, offers to join impulsive CeCe to help keep her out of trouble. Focused on winning Ethan back, CeCe begins camp grappling with insecurities about her worth. But continual support from Paul and her three female cabinmates—who model acceptance, friendship, and love—open her mind to the rewards of compassion and what it means to truly care for others. Writing in CeCe’s acerbic voice, debut author Hartl talks frankly about teen sexual experiences and her protagonist’s initial cynicism about religion: “I may have lacked Christian prowess, but at least I knew enough not to talk about hand jobs in the Jesus camp van.” Bitingly funny, this first novel promotes positive and salient themes of love, consent, female empowerment, and accountability. Ages 14–up. Agent: Rebecca Podos, Reese Agency. (Sept.)
"This book reminded me why I fell in love with YA. Have a Little Faith in Me is both hilarious and poignant, with an unforgettable cast of characters led by fierce but vulnerable CeCe. She asks all the questions about relationships and sexuality I kept locked in my mind as a teen, and her desire for answers broke my heart and then filled it up. An immediate favorite." – Rachel Lynn Solomon author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone and Our Year of Maybe
"A true celebration of girls—their bravery, their flaws, their hearts, and the sisterhood that binds them. Have A Little Faith in Me is a thoughtful, no-holds-barred look at sex, consent, and the healing power of female friendship." – Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of Firsts and Last Girl Lied To
“[A] romantic comedy that explores feminism and comprehensive sex education against the backdrop of a conservative religious summer camp. First-time author Sonia Hartl tackles all of these topics and more with finesse—always candid, always open-minded and very rarely heavy-handed… Hartl’s debut is a powerful read for teens who are beginning to explore romantic relationships and sexuality.” —BookPage, starred review
“[A] thoughtful story of consent, sexual education, friendship, and honest communication.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Quick-paced, well written friends-to-lovers romance... complete with pranks, hilarious banter, and teenage angst.”—School Library Journal
“Let me count the ways I adored this debut… the book serves as sort of ‘emotional sex ed,’ teaching the important stuff about feelings and consent that even the most thorough class rarely covers.” —Dahlia Adler, B&N Teens blog
“This is a fun, standout story about self-examination, self-discovery, friendship, sex education, consent, and honesty.”—SLJ Teen Librarian Toolbox
Gr 9 Up—Francine "CeCe" Wells plans to spend three weeks in the summer before her senior year of high school at Camp Three SixTeen, a Christian camp for teens. As a non-Christian, CeCe is spending her parents' budgeted funds to try to win back Ethan, after he talked her into having sex then broke up with her to restore his virginity and virtue. On the positive side, at least she'll be earning community service hours and won't be alone. Her next door neighbor and best friend, Paul, who is not a fan of Ethan, tags along with CeCe, also claiming to be a Christian, despite hard feelings stemming from his ultra-religious pastor father leaving their family years ago. Upon arrival, CeCe finds that Ethan is already in a relationship with Mandy, one of the girls in her cabin. To try to make Ethan jealous and save face, she and Paul start a fake relationship. Camp Three SixTeen is no match for CeCe as she boldly resists the female body shaming and negativity surrounding sex. While CeCe and Paul test the rocky waters of their new relationship, CeCe forms strong friendship bonds with Mandy, Sarina, and Astrid, the girls of Cabin 8. Recommended for purchase for older teens, due to heavy themes of sex. VERDICT Readers will enjoy this quick-paced, well written friends-to-lovers romance taking place during an atypical summer camp experience, complete with pranks, hilarious banter, and teenage angst.—Laura Jones, Argos Community Schools, IN
When CeCe gets dumped by her boyfriend, Ethan, soon after she loses her virginity to him, purportedly because of his religious-based guilt, she follows him to a Christian summer camp to win him back.
Her best friend, Paul, who attended the camp in his Christian days (before his pastor father left his mom for the church secretary), goes along to support her. When Ethan turns out to be dating one of the other campers, CeCe pretends Paul is actually her boyfriend, though she still wants Ethan back. Told from CeCe's first-person, non-Christian point of view, the story starts out frothy, with condom water balloons and plot manipulations to get CeCe and her new white (everyone seems to be white, a missed opportunity) counselor-in-training friends to the point where they're discussing sex more than Jesus. CeCe's infatuation with Ethan doesn't make sense at first, and the Christian camp setting doesn't fully ring true, until suddenly Paul asks CeCe, "Did you say no before you said yes?" Ethan tells the entire camp that CeCe deceived and seduced him, and from there the novel blossoms—yes, blossoms—into a thoughtful story of consent, sexual education, friendship, and honest communication. For all the talk about Christ, there isn't much religion here, but there's a lot of truth and some genuine goodness, as CeCe and her friends learn that their virginity, or lack thereof, doesn't define them.
Recommended for teens no matter what they believe.(Fiction. 14-18)