17-year-old Laney Lowell has lost everything. During the national gymnastic qualifications meet, her world flips after learning her family has died in a car accident. As she moves from Salt Lake City, Utah to Columbia, North Carolina, Laney tries to move forward with an aunt and uncle whom she barley knows. It’s her memories of the outdoors with her family that pulls her to the Refuge, a wildlife preserve where she meets Gabe Randall, who’s rumored to be infected with a serious disease. Ignoring warnings Laney can’t help but fall in love with him, finding light in her world of dark grieving. As she gets closer to discovering his secret, their love will be put to a test she can’t prepare for.
I loved the cover of the book and the premise of the story, but after reading it I personally found it a bit of a disappointment. It gave me the impression it had potential as an adult crossover, but this is not the case. After researching the publishing company Cedar Fort, it made more sense. I appreciate that a religious publisher can publish a book that’s not consumed with religious themes. I felt that faith had an appearance in the book but it didn’t take over, which I enjoyed. However, Laney’s story isn’t anything new and I guessed at the ‘twist’ right from the first chapter.
Regardless, this book is full of love and secrets. I’d recommend this book for younger readers, around the ages of 12+. It’s a YA on a younger scale and for that I think Rummage did a wonderful job. She covers good values, has easy to relate to characters and describes a beautiful setting with some slight mystery and suspense. It’s well written for its market that has the opportunity for religious and non-religious exposure. For young readers that are looking to read something full of heart, Refuge is a great start.
Cedar Fort gave this book as an ARC for an honest review. Many thanks to the publisher and Carole Rummage!