Written by: Beth Woodward, CC2K Books Editor
A Missing Peace by Beth Fred is a YA romance that starts out on a very She’s All That trajectory: popular guy Caleb makes a bet that he can get the new girl, Iraqi war refugee Mirriam to go to the prom with him. But the story really excels when it focuses on the cultural dynamics of Mirriam and Caleb’s relationship and of Mirriam’s life in Killeen, as well as the revelation of a shared history that connect Mirriam and Caleb.
The book description, courtesy of the Escape Publishing website:
Angry, seventeen-year-old Iraqi war refugee Mirriam Yohanna hates her new life in Killeen, Texas, where the main attraction is a military base, populated with spoiled army brats like Caleb Miller.
Caleb has much to be angry about too, including Mirriam who turns him down flat in front of everyone. Eager for retribution, Caleb agrees to a dare that will see him take Mirriam to the prom and regain his pride.
But their relationship soon moves beyond high school antics. Mirriam and Caleb are bound together by more than location, and as they are forced to work closely together on a school assignment, they start to uncover an explosive story that has the potential to ruin lives — and both of their futures. One single truth changes everything and strengthens their bond.
When Mirriam’s family discovers their relationship, they decide it’s time to arrange her marriage to a proper Iraqi man. Caleb must convince Mirriam that he is in it for forever — or risk losing her for good.
The story is told in alternating first-person POV. In the beginning, Caleb seems like a pretty stereotypical popular guy character. But as his relationship with Mirriam develops, he grows and matures considerably. Mirriam seems, initially, to be the more mature and stable of the two, and I thought the book would continue with the romance unfolding along those lines.
But then Fred changes things up, throwing a shared history into the mix that threatens their nascent bond in unexpected ways. As a reader, you’ll probably anticipate something is coming well before Caleb and Mirriam do. But how it actually plays out is much more unexpected. I also really liked the focus on the cultural conflicts Mirriam has while living in a Texas Army town. The book is at its strongest when it uses Caleb and Mirriam’s romance to focus on the more serious issues of racism, cultural differences, and the injustices of war.
I think Beth Fred has really found a niche in YA romance. She does a good job combining well-known tropes of the genre with more interesting conflicts and questions.
A Missing Peace will be available September 1 from Escape Publishing.
Note: Beth Fred is a former CC2K contributor. She provided me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. You can also check out my interview with her.