If Only You Knew is a perfect summer read: light, straightforward, non-threatening – and yet with plenty of depth and complexity to chew on.
Recent high school grad Jo Mackenzie is spending the summer with her cousin in a small Ontario town called Silverpoint. With no plans for the future and no great sense of self-worth, she has two pressing goals: find a job and find a boyfriend, not necessarily in that order.
Jo isn’t shallow, she’s just not aware of her own potential – or that life is just as imperfect and complicated for her new friends as it is for her.
She’s a fun character to read about, particularly with Canadian author Mags Storey’s vibrant, candid writing style. We’re in Jo’s head and we can love her vulnerability and honesty. Along with the relationship angst, Jo has a bigger problem: two creepy guys are stalking her, but only one of her friends believes it.
If Only You Knew is the story of a young woman’s search for friendship, love and significance. Mags Storey presents faith from the outside (through Jo and Sam, who don’t feel perfect enough to belong) and the inside (through Kevin, Nate and Lisa the pastor’s daughter, who aren’t perfect either).
The message of Jesus comes through fresh and clear, as do non-Christians’ reactions to things church-goers can take for granted. If Only You Knew would be a good read for a teen who’s not sure about faith as well as for one who believes. It was a good read for me, a Christian at the mid-life mark.
These days it feels like a US-based setting is a requirement for a Christian novel, and it’s great to see that Kregel Publications has given us one set in Canada. Great stories can happen anywhere, and visiting new places is part of the fun of reading. For the record, Silverpoint is a fictional town in Ontario’s cottage country.
Mags Storey is a Canadian writer and editor who has lived in the United States and the Middle East. At present she’s a correspondent for ChristianWeek. You can read some of her articles here. You can also read chapter one of If Only You Knew. If Only You Knew is Mags Storey’s first novel.