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In this book, Christy makes her first foray into dating. I personally feel like shes already been dating for a year, but I guess that was just hanging out and not officially dating? o.OBoth love interests that Christy has are men (boys?) who I dont feel really deserve her. I feel very protective of Christy, and it makes me anxious when guys dont treat her right.On the one hand, we have Todd. A strong Christian, a California surfer, and a putz. He hesitates to hold Christys hand. Hes kissed her a few times (five times over the course of a year, no tongue). He is always preaching to her about God, quoting the Bible to her, showing up late to dates, asking her on a date that turns out to be a group-outing, etc. He drives Christy nuts with his wishy-washy, non-committal, afraid-of-physical-contact hesitation. On the other hand we have Rick. Ostensibly a Christian. He thinks hes an alpha male. Bossy, dominating, controlling, ALSO shows up late for dates (what IS it with these guys?), competitive and jealous. Doesnt he just sound like a great catch? Hes waited 9 months for Christy to turn 16 so that they could start dating. Now that hes got her (she went out with him and on the first date agreed to go steady with him) he should be Proceeding With Caution. Instead, hes jealous of every guy who talks to her. He yells at her for taking a job without talking it over with him first. He STEALS a bracelet that Todd gave her (a gold one that says FOREVER) and trades it in at the jewelers for a big silver one that says RICK. (Shes not your dog, Rick. Grow up.) Hes critical and controlling of what she wears, her hairstyles, and her make-up.Instead of putting her foot down on how uncomfortable all this makes her, the basically spineless Christy just goes along with it, feeling more and more sick to her stomach with every passing day.I really feel that I like Christy. I can identify with her, I care about her, I worry about her when she dates Rick, my heart aches for her when Todd brushes her off. I have strong feelings about Christy. But I dont like the authors basic message - that Todd is the perfect man, that Christy needs other people to guide her and help her make the right decisions, and her message that dating boys, wanting boys to touch you (just hand-holding or kissing, okay? Nothing heavy) is BAD. Because it brings you away from God, or makes you a slut, or something.Christy does good, brave things often. But instead of the author rewarding her for this, she punishes her for it. In the last book, Christy was brave and talked to Todd about her feelings. She feels upset that he almost never touches her (like hand-holding! Not sex!), and does a great job explaining to him that she needs a little affection. He shuts her down, saying men are the leaders and women are the responders, and in a nutshell, she should be grateful for any scraps of affection he gives her. PUTZ.In this book, Christy deals with the opposite problem - Rick is moving too fast for her. She does a really brave thing and talks to him about it. It takes serious guts to do this, I was really proud of her. Rick agrees to back off, but kind of makes fun of her for being a prude. Of course, in my opinion the serious problem with Rick isnt the fooling-around part but the part where he thinks he owns and controls her. To the blessed relief the readers, (view spoiler)[ she dumps his a** at the end of the book. (hide spoiler)]

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