by Karen Kingsbury
I rate this book with 5 Stars.
Karen Kingsbury has written a story that could be pulled from a newspaper headline and will easily draw the reader in. She introduces us to strong, well developed characters that give the reader a glimpse of their hear and soul. The plot flows easily and with each page turned you will become more invested in the storyline. She also brings us a message that anyone can relate to of fame, true love and conflicts of faith. With each page turned I became more invested in the story.
There are several stories within a story, but each of the characters revolve around two primary characters and they are Zack Dylan and Reese Weatherly.
Zack Dylan is a handsome, young man who lives with his family on their horse farm in Kentucky. The farm has been in the family for generations and has had numerous set back lately with the damage from several bad storms that hit the area in the past few years. Finances are tight, but the family has always managed. Zack and his girlfriend, Reese, have been very active with the church and with the youth ministry. He has been applauded by many for his wonderful singing voice and has encouraged him to pursue a career in music. He decides to audition for 15 Minutes , a show similar to American Idol, in hopes to win and use the money to help with the family finances. Also, he feels that on that public of a stage he could show his faith. His family and Reese warn him about how fame changes people, but he feels his faith is strong enough to face any challenges.
Reese met and fell in love with Zack in college. She is very active working with equine therapy for disabled or challenged children. She loves her job and is in turmoil when offered a job in England to teach others how to operate a school for equine therapy. This is a wonderful opportunity for her and feels she would be helping so many who would otherwise not get it. She and Zack discuss her possible move to England and his audition on 15 Minutes. He asks that she not make a decision until after he auditions so they can discuss it more. They have always planned to get married and he is worried how this move could effect their plans. Reese agrees, but is concerned that this audition is going to change their relationship because she knows Zack is good enough to win the competition. Before he leaves they each make a promise to each other, one not to change and the other not to make any decisions until they can talk more.
Upon arriving in Atlanta for auditions, Zack is overwhelmed with the entire process. He meets several contestants and makes it through the first round of competitions. He readily gives credit to God for all his abilities and openly discusses his faith. As the audition process concludes in Atlanta and contestants are moved to New York, he is approached by producers about the image they want him to project if he is wanting to win. One change they want him to make is to no longer discuss his religion, because he needs to win on his ability to sing. The second change is to stop talking about his girlfriend, because he needs to build up his fan base and being single is always more appealing. Zack wasn't sure if this was the correct thing to do, but agrees even though it just didn't feel right. He knows he could still get his message of faith out through social media (Facebook and Twitter). After a couple of weeks of practice and all the advertisement gigs he has hardly had time to talk or text Reese at all, but he feels she understands about the pressure he is under.
The contestants will perform in Carnegie Hall which would enable the show to have a larger audience. Chandra is one of the judges who in recent years been the winner of 15 Minutes. She was well aware of the turmoil of fame can have and the cost of having it all. She agreed to be a judge this year to find meaning to her life. She is on a rollercoaster of emotions and can see herself in the contestants and prays for them to make wise decision, because she know how easily they can be manipulated. She thinks Zack is a good person and sees what's important to him early on. She sees a big change occurring in Zack before the first show ever airs and warns him what one must give up in order to have fame. She reveals her troubled life and how things have changed for her since she won. Zack has compassion for Chandra's story and all that she has endured, but feels compelled to finish. He feels his faith will sustain him through the competition. Needless to say, Zack's life starts to downward spiral that everyone notices, but him.
By the time the first show airs on television live, Zack has made so many compromises that his family and Reese are shocked at the changes. Reese misses Zack terribly, but she sees the changes in him. He is not the same person she fell in love with. Was it all an act or had he forgotten who he was. She now begins to wonder can they still have a relationship with all the changes that have occurred. Will Zack be the winner of 15 Minutes? Has he fallen so far from God that there's no recovering? Does he still have room in his life for God?
Dubbed by Time Magazine as the Queen of Christian Fiction, Karen has also been a featured guest on the Today Show, Fox News, USA Today, and numerous other television programs and magazines. Her fiction has made her one of the country's favorite storytellers. Others of her emotionally gripping titles include the 9-11 Series, Even Now, Ever After, and Between Sundays.
Karen is also a public speaker, reaching more than 100,000 women annually through various national events. Karen and her husband, Don, live in Nashville, TN with their five sons, three of whom are adopted from Haiti. Their daughter Kelsey is an actress who has appeared in several Christian films. She is newly married to Christian recording artist Kyle Kupecky. The two also live in Nashville.