The coincidence of Callie and Kayden (written by Jessica Sorensen) is a young adult novel, but one with very mature content. I read it because it kept popping up on ‘best young adult fiction of 2012’ lists, just like Catching Jordan which I reviewed before. It’s definitely not a Christian book and there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t recommend it to your students (which I’ll discuss below), yet it is very compelling.
The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden is the story of two very messed up 18-year olds (Callie and Kayden obviously) and their two equally messed up best friends, Seth and Luke respectively. The book is written in the first person and switches between Callie and Kayden. That takes some getting used to, because you need to keep remembering in whose head you are and sometimes it pulled me out of the story.
Callie is trying to deal with a sexual trauma in her past, just as Kayden is trying to come to terms with an abusive dad. The first felt more real to me than the second, also because the violence against Kayden is quite frankly a bit extreme. For me, toning the level of abuse a bit down would have made it more realistic. Despite that, how Kayden deals with his pain rings true. The same goes for Callie and as their love story develops, you really start rotting for them to get through it and conquer their pain.
There’s a lot of hurt in this book, like abuse, rape, discrimination, anorexia, cutting, and bullying to name the most important issues that come up. It’s a bit too much, yet it’s described very real and intense and so you keep reading to see how they deal with what life has done to them. The ending is very unsatisfying by the way, I didn’t realize it when I started reading that the book will have a sequel which you’ll need to read to get the rest of the story.
I think teens will recognize many issues in The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden, either from their own lives or from friends. That makes it a book I wish had been written from a more Christian perspective, or at least a bit less crude. Because crude it is. There’s a substantial amount of swearing (the f-word keeps popping up for instance), crude words (especially for certain anatomy), there are a few explicit sex scenes and some violence described in detail.
What frustrates me is that only part of it had been necessary to make the book just as good. It’s because of this crudeness that I would hesitate to recommend the book, even though I think it would be a great book to talk about with both guys and girls.
If you can get over the language issues and the crudeness, I’d really advise you to read this book yourself. You’ll get a good insight into what hurt does to teens and it will help you understand your students better.