2 out of 4 stars
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Gloria Camino has always been different. In high school, she focused on her studies and had no time for trivialities or young romance. In her valedictory address, she exhorted her fellow graduates to dream big and to think positively. She went on to attend university at NYU. While waiting for her driver at the university gate one day, Gloria was abducted. The mastermind was a spurned suitor from high school. She was freed immediately as her wealthy and influential father was friends with the police chief and even hired a posse of private detectives to track her abductors. While in captivity, Gloria realized that she had a higher calling: “to serve humanity and teach fellow citizens how to live a better life, one that is full of peace and joy.” She wanted to be a nun.
It is clear that the author of Gloria’s Life Purpose, Sameer Zahr, is a spiritual (though not necessarily religious) person. The book has many parts where Gloria and her family and friends discuss traditional religion and modern spirituality. Her family members share their personal testimonies of how they found the right path. They are grateful to Gloria for showing them the way through her example. I like the solid relationships among the family members; this is every household’s dream.
Many conversations center on the law of attraction (also called the law of vibration) popularized in spiritual literature like The Secret. The author has some characters expounding on how traditional religion is stagnant; this has caused churches to lose their members to New Age alternatives. Those who are into these contemporary spiritual practices will find the book agreeable.
The book is advertised as a young-adult read. While Gloria is definitely a sterling example of an ideal young person (the story begins when she is 19 and ends when she is 25), I find her story much too perfect to be relatable to the majority of today’s youth. The major challenge that besieged her was the kidnapping which was resolved quickly and left her with nary a scratch. Barely 19, Gloria did major philanthropic work helping pregnant and abused teenage girls. Financial aid and logistics support were readily available from her father and their generous family friends. Any villains that entered the picture seemed halfhearted and were easily vanquished, thanks to Gloria's overwhelming confidence. Unless born with the proverbial silver spoon or lacking the inherent diffidence of youth, the young reader may be in for some serious eye-rolling.
The many long discourses among the characters also border on the unrealistic. They seem more suited for a discussion in a theology classroom, or a school-sponsored debate.
There are some romantic relationships featured in the book, and these are all chaste and pure. I have no issue with prudence, but I feel that it is taken to the extreme in the book. This is another factor that may turn off the typical young adult.
The book was generally easy to read as the author used simple vocabulary even for the “spiritual stuff.” However, grammar issues had me rereading several sentences. Careful editing is needed to rid the text of unnecessary words, wrong punctuation, and misnamed characters.
This book may be good for young adults who are part of a church ministry and those with a calling for a religious vocation. Fans of The Secret and the Abraham-Hicks phenomenon and students of quantum physics may also find it to their liking. However, the grammatical errors, the drawn-out conversations, and the utopian story make me take two stars away. I give the book 2 out of 4 stars.
Gloria's Life Purpose
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