About the Book
Title: Love, Defined
Author: Leila Tualla
Published: August 4th, 2015
Publisher: Limitless Publishing, LLC
Genre: YA Christian Fiction
Age Recommendation: Upper YA
Into their final summer before graduating college, three childhood friends, Alex Makapulo, Lori Hanson, and Andy Taylor had each expected an uncomplicated transition to adulthood.
Alex is toying with the idea of leaving the Catholic Church and becoming a member of her best friend, Jack Page’s church. Jack wonders what is keeping Alex from being baptized and fully accepting a new life with Christ. Alex wonders the same thing and believes that she needs to be 100 % in her conviction before fully committing to a new Christian life.
For Lori’s twenty-second birthday, her grandfather, Pete Hanson, presents her with a summer vacation to England. While looking up various tourist spots, she meets and befriends Colin Watson, a British musician, online who then suggest they meet when she lands in London. They hit it off instantly but Pete is angry and believes that she only used him as a means to meet Colin. When he finds out that Lori met Colin online, he forbids Lori from seeing Colin entirely. Lori, who has fallen in love with Colin, is heartbroken. Pete threatens to leave England with Lori’s passport. Colin and Lori try to arrange meetups where they can see each other but Pete catches on. Lori takes this as a sign that it wasn’t meant to be. She unhappily finishes her trip with Pete and goes home vowing not to forgive her grandfather.
Andy reconnects with her old crush, Miles Webber and decides she wants a more meaningful relationship with him. She tells Alex about the situation and Alex truthfully tells Andy that Miles only wants her for sex. This angers Andy and she walks out of the apartment. After she’s cooled down, she comes up with an idea to throw a surprise birthday party for Alex. Andy believes that if Alex and Jack were to hook up, the focus would shift from Miles and her. Andy spikes all the drinks for Alex’s party and leaves her friend while she goes in search of Miles. He shows up at the bar with another girl. In an effort to soothe her wounded ego, she goes home with someone else. When she wakes up the next day, she realizes she’s in bed with Alex’s young boss from the coffeehouse, David Roberts, Jr.
When Alex wakes up the next day, she finds Jack in her room and freaks out. They figure out that Andy had spiked the drinks. Alex gets angry but Jack tells Alex that he is in love with her, and has been since they first met in ninth grade. It only confuses her all the more and causes her to contemplate whether he is God’s blessing or a test to distract her from her beliefs. While she has strong feelings for him, she chooses to ignore Jack’s confession and hopes that he moves on, as she doesn’t want to complicate their friendship.
Andy comes home and confess everything to Alex. Alex hesitatingly accepts the apology. Andy vows not to do anything crazy for the next few months and drops the Miles subject altogether.
When Andy learns she is pregnant and doesn’t know if Miles or David is the father, she decides to abort the baby, as she not ready to be a mother. Alex opposes the idea of abortion and begs Andy to change her mind. Andy doesn’t waver from her decision and even asks Alex and Lori to take her to a clinic.
Their trip to Houston tests their friendship and Alex’s faith. Can their friendship still survive after Andy’s decision? Will Alex find her conviction in the midst of this emotional rollercoaster?
About the Author
Leila Tualla is a Filipino American. She is a Christian blogger and writer. Leila Tualla is the author of Love, Defined, a contemporary YA romance. An avid reader, she often posts book reviews on her website at www.leilatualla.com. Leila is currently writing a memoir about her faith, anxieties of motherhood, postpartum depression, and preeclampsia journey. She is a two-time Preeclampsia survivor and online advocate. When she’s not reading or writing, she can be found chasing her ‘Mexipino’ rugrats and simultaneously trying to learn her mother-in-law’s recipes and language, and making sure the eggrolls are “made with love,” per her Mama ‘Lil.’
Alex walked in carrying groceries. “Still haven’t gotten through?” She stopped in front of her and arched an eyebrow when she saw a glass on the coffee table. It was a martini glass with an olive swimming in clear liquid. “Is that what I think it is?”
Andy stifled a groan. Alex with her rules of no-alcohol in the house was backed by the equally uptight owner, Lori. She figured that with Lori gone and Alex spending more time with Jack that she could get away with breaking a few rules.
“What do you think it is?” She asked sweetly. She lifted the glass and sipped, batting her eyelash at her.
“Alcohol,” Came the curt reply.
She lifted a shoulder before downing the rest of the drink. The warm liquid hitting her empty stomach. “It’s a martini. Want one?”
“No thanks, dear,” Alex replied with the same false saccharine tone, “I typically try not to get wasted before breakfast.” She finally ventured into the kitchen to put up her groceries. Andy followed and watched her careful put everything away.
“Alex,” she wailed, looking at the packaged sugars and processed carbs in front of her. “I told you I’m on a diet.” Her stomach lurched at the peanut butter and the jelly Alex was now putting up.
Alex frowned. “So? I’m not on your no carb, no sugar, alcohol only diet, thank you very much!” She put some goldfish crackers, Milano cookies and popcorn in the pantry. “The alcohol isn’t really helping you. It has calories, you know.”
“Beer has calories, but liquor doesn’t. What did you think of Miles?” She asked, trying to take her mind off of the foods she couldn’t have and equally cursing Alex for her genetics.
“Have you ever seen a skinny alcoholic? I took a nutrition class and one gram of alcohol equals seven calories. The fact that you’re not sleeping also damages your metabolism, thus causing weight gain,” she paused and regarded Andy. “I already told you what I thought of Miles. He’s a pothead and there’s something about him I don’t like.”
Andy stood in tiptoes to open a cabinet on top of the refrigerator. She reached and pulled her vodka bottle down, immediately scrutinizing the bottle. She frowned at the nutrition label and smiled sheepishly, “I don’t know how many grams are in a drink.”
She caught a package of red and white out of the corner of her eye. “Hey, you said you’d stop drinking coke!”
Alex opened the fridge door, causing Andy to take a step back. She put the 12 pack into the fridge and closed it. She took the vodka bottle from Andy and tried to read the label.
“And he’s not a pothead,” Andy paused, “anymore. He just drinks occasionally.”
Alex widened her eyes at her and gave her back her bottle. “You know when I say these comments to you, sometimes they’re a joke. I don’t expect them to be real at all.”
She turned and finished putting up the rest of her groceries. “Are you sure you’re alright hanging out with these alcoholics who used to be druggies?”
“They are not alcoholics!” She pointed out. Andy hated these conversations. Anything she told them about, the self-righteous Alex would bombard her with insults and lecture her about hanging out with the ‘wrong crowd.’ You would think she still lived with her parents with all these rules she was supposedly breaking. She tuned out Alex who had turned back around to face her, opening and closing her mouth like a fish.
“Are you listening to me?” Alex demanded, shaking her briefly out of her thoughts. She just nodded, but didn’t reply. She was tired of explaining herself. Isn’t it a normal rite of passage for young twenty-something college girls to lose their good girl persona and just have fun, be wild and free? She blinked when Alex suddenly swung around and marched down to her room.
She turned when she reached her door. “I don’t like talking to someone who is clearly not paying attention to me!”
Andy rolled her eyes, “I’m sorry, but I’ve heard it all before, Alex. You give me the same speech practically every weekend.” And each one with more gusto than the last. “I just asked what you thought of Miles.”
“And I answered. You already know how I feel about him. You’ve been asking me for days now. No, I don’t think he’s right for you or that he’s changed. He’s still using you just like last time.”
“No, this time, it’s different.” The words sounded hollow, and she knew it. She needed to sit down and have another drink. She turned around and sat on the couch, opening the vodka bottle and pouring some into her martini glass.
“Have you two been on a date, yet?” Alex sat beside her, wrinkling her face as she watched Andy drink the contents. “And I don’t mean meeting at the bar, or his house or going to a party type of date. I mean having dinner and movie type of date.”
She shifted trying to look causal, but the hesitation already answered Alex’s question. “Well, that type of dating is out dated, anyway.” She flipped her blonde locks behind her back. “I’m already in a relationship with him and we don’t need to go on a date because we’re already dating.” I think.
Alex narrowed her eyes at her. “Do you know how delusional you sound right now?”
“We can’t all pray and have the perfect guy right there waiting for us the entire time. Most of us have to go find them on our own!” Andy managed to spat out.
“Well maybe that’s something you need, Andy.” Her voice softened. “Why don’t you pray about the perfect guy? You are worth it and this guy isn’t worthy of you.”