Melissa Ann Aylstock
Bonneville Books , 2005. Paperback:
Suggested retail price: $12.95 (US)
In this first-time novel for the author, the reader is taken on a journey of self discovery in this "love conquers all" story, with the main character, Cameron T. Richards. Cameron is a skilled mechanic who leaves his current home in Fargo, North Dakota under the pretence of "helping" his aging grandmother, his father's mother, in Southern California. He leaves his mother and little sister to find work and make a new life for himself. His father had passed away years earlier.
We know we are in for a bumpy ride when his jeep breaks down along the freeway on his way to California, in the first couple of pages of the book. It is, however, during this time that he meets Lauren, who works as a waitress at the local diner. Cameron stops in for a bite before finding his grandma's house. Cameron seems smitten by Lauren from their first meeting. He doesn't realize that she will become more than just a friend and help smooth out some of the bumps Cameron seems sure to encounter.
At their first meeting Lauren assumes Cameron is a Mormon because he is wearing a CTR ring. She is surprised when he asks to be seated in the smoking section. As it turns out Cameron found the ring in a bathroom, and when no one came to claim it he just started to wear it. He thought it was great that someone lost a ring that had the same initials as he did.
Cameron moves in with his grandma who, surprising to Cameron, seems to be quite capable of taking care of herself. He also finds out that she is surrounded by family who love her and spend a great deal of time with her. Cameron is immediately welcomed into this large, loving, extended family, something he has not had in his life. He finds out very soon that they are all members of a religious cult his father had warned him against. These "Mormons" prove to be different than he expected.
Through the budding relationship of Lauren and Cameron the author unfolds the "mysteries" of the so-called religious cult of Mormonism. She actually does a good job of exploring topics Mormon teenagers are often faced with, such as dating people who are not Mormons.
Cameron finds a job with a local mechanic where he not only has an opportunity to use his skills with cars, but is also introduced to a guy who is a member of the party culture of the community. Cameron explores this life for a while, but is drawn to the life Lauren and his family live. He wants to know more about their lives and why they live the way they do.
Cameron is so overwhelmed by the kindnesses his new extended family have shown to him that he gives up smoking and begins reading the Book of Mormon. Cameron's new life in California is not without its hardships. He narrowly escapes being put in jail and gets into a fight with a co-worker among other things.
CTR's Ring offers the reader a chance to accompany Cameron on his journey to find himself. It explores some issues that most teenagers are directly faced with, including the ever-present good and evil and other issues that are not so black and white. It is a story of friendship, overcoming hardship, and finding love where you least expect it. It is a book I think teenagers and pre-teens would enjoy reading. It offers enough four wheeling adventure with a mix of love story to hold the interest of both boys and girls. I would recommend this book from this first-time author and anticipate more good books from her.
Valayne May November 25, 2005
© 2005 Valayne May