Boyfriends, Burritos and an Ocean of Trouble
By Nancy Rue
Zondervan - Young Adult/Christian
Bryn O'Connor's life has just become complicated. Injured in an automobile accident, an examination in the emergency room has revealed old injuries - fading bruises, a healed broken bone. When the doctors assume her father is responsible for her old wounds, Bryn has no choice but to speak up and tell the truth. Her 18-year-old boyfriend has been abusing her. Bryn blames herself. She's 15 and doesn't know manipulation when she experiences it. As she leaves the emergency room, she's drawn to a leather book with the letters "RL" on the cover and takes it with her. The book, as she reads it, seems to be speaking directly to her, answering the questions she doesn't even speak aloud.
At home, Bryn just wants to hide and is horrified when her athletic and somewhat pushy grandmother arrives to help with her recovery. She seems to have no choice but to press charges against her brutal ex, but then she begins receiving threats. As Bryn's grandmother shows her patient side and begins teaching her about surfing to help her heal and become a stronger person, Bryn also regularly reads RL, finding surprising answers and direction in simple storytelling.
Boyfriends, Burritoes and an Ocean of Trouble is a rather strange book. It focuses on emotions, the future court case, and relationships, some troubled and some tender. Bryn is very young and doesn't understand that the abuse she experienced was not her fault. Even older women often go through years or decades of abuse without summoning their inner resources, so I understood her trouble accepting that she wasn't to blame, that she'd been manipulated. But, it took her an awfully long time to come to that conclusion and in the meantime, the book was somewhat predictable in places.
RL stands for "Real Life" and Boyfriends, Burritos is actually the second in the "Real Life" series. I think it might have helped if I'd read the first book and understood the purpose of this strange modern-writing Bible that speaks to people. Essentially, she goes to the book with questions and it tells her stories that she uses to come up with answers. They're pretty obvious, if you've read the Bible at all. But, it took Bryn quite a while to figure out what exactly RL was. In between readings, she's threatened by a large group of people, both via text and computer, and is too stupid to tell anyone about the threats. That, I found really irritating.
An unusual book about summoning one's inner resources, Christian with a paranormal flair in nature, but not in an overly-preachy way. I liked it but didn't love it. The characters, except for one who disappears when caught in the middle, are pretty plainly delineated as people who were either on Bryn's side or against her and those who were on her side were very likable. I particularly loved the two surfers (one of whom becomes her new boyfriend) that she gets to know as her grandmother teachers her to surf, as well as her grandmother. There was a little too much focus on the court case and it took Bryn way, way too long to figure out that she needed to turn over evidence of threats, so she fell heavily toward the "stupid heroine" bracket, but in general I liked the book and don't regret reading it.