Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book Review: Caleb + Kate by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma


As the popular darling of the junior class and heiress to the five-star Monrovi Inn empire, Kate has both everything and nothing. She's bored with school and life...until she locks eyes with Caleb at a school dance.

Caleb is new to Kate's exclusive prep school, and it's clear he doesn't fit in. In fact, he and his dad work in maintenance for Kate's father. And while Caleb knows better than to spend time with the boss's daughter, it seems that every time he tries to back away, something pulls him right back in.

When their parents demand that they are to stay away from each other, they learn of a fight between their families that occurred more than fifty years ago. It's a mystery Kate doesn't understand...but a legacy Caleb has endured his entire life.

With the world stacked against them, Caleb and Kate will have to walk by faith to find the path that God has planned for them.


In a simple form, Caleb + Kate is a modern take on Romeo and Juliet but the “house divided” aspect manifests in a different form. Two separate families from different backgrounds and cultures, holding a common link in the past but now in battle make up the most basic premise for this book. Built on top of that is a relationship formed out of teenage emotion and one sparked on despite each party’s original intent to ignore the other.

Kate is a rich heiress, the daughter of a man who owns a large chain of wealthy hotels. The original hotel- and the one most important to her family- makes up the setting for a large part of this novel. Despite her money and status, Kate is a mostly down to earth girl and aware of how fortunate she is. Though she isn’t sure she could easily give up her life of luxury, she holds no delusions that anyone with less than her is beneath her. Attending a private college prep school completes the rich snob image but the chapters from her perspective get the point across quickly of her worldly and mature mental state. Though she has her moments of weakness and at times slips into the “rich brat” type of mindset, her compassionate nature overrides the rest of the book.

Caleb is from a different background, full blooded Hawaiian and used to spending his days surfing rather than wearing a uniform to a school full of stuck up people. Working alongside his father as part of the landscape and maintenance team for Kate’s family hotel creates some interesting- and opportunistic- situations. Caleb is a genuine guy, devoted to his faith and his family but not so closed minded as to shut everything else or ignore chances and people because they don't immediate fit into the mold set out for him. In many ways, he compliments Kate and though only a teenager, he has a mindset of long term dating rather than someone for now.

There is a strong faith and Christian element in this book but it is brought about in defining the characters. Both Caleb and Kate are mostly unwavering in their faith, thinking of their beliefs even when teenage emotions and situations threaten to take control. Despite this facet, this is certainly a book to be received by a wide range of readers regardless of religious views. It never comes across as preachy or pushy. Caleb and Kate are Christians. Their faith is a part of them and this isn’t glossed over or held back as a method to please the masses.

As the plot progresses, both the reasons these two families are feuding as well as the relationship between Caleb and Kate develop and intertwine. The teenage appeal of first love is strong and the reader will fall into it, wanting more of the budding romance while also wondering what will happen under the pressure of their families. Rarely did the plot drag as there were enough elements and events woven together to keep things fresh and paced.

The teenage main characters come across strongly and develop beautifully, giving a strong backing to teenage first love- and something that very easily could continue to last. Their love is tested increasingly more as the novel progresses, leaving the reader wondering if things will work or if these two will be separated. The intrigue is present throughout before leading to a wonderfully written ending. Clear mental voices, personal struggles, and overall accomplished writing help pull this novel together, making it a must read for anyone looking for a teenage romance.

Source: Finished paperback copy received for review from author/publisher
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595546782
ISBN-13: 978-1595546784


  1. For some reason I wasn't expecting this book to be THAT great and I think a lot of that had to do with the summary I read. The one you posted sounds SO much better! The premise kind of reminds me of The Scribbler Of Dreams which I loved.

  2. I'm so glad to hear that this book has the whole faith aspect. That's hard to find in young adult literature. I'm even more excited for this book after reading your review :)

  3. I don't like so much modern takes of classic stories, but you review sounds interesting.
    So I think I have to include this book in my to-read list.