Sweet by Emmy Laybourne is a book written for older teens (17-19).  It contains sexual innuendos, over-sexualization of women, sexual assault, underage drinking, foul language, and a lot of kissing.

Sweet Amazon Link

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Solu’s luxurious celebrity-filled Cruise to Lose is billed as “the best cruise since the Titanic,” and if the new diet sweetener works as promised – dropping five percent of a person’s body weight in just days – it really could be the answer to the world’s obesity problem. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She’s already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host Tom Forelli (otherwise known as the hottest guy ever!) and she’s too sick to even try the sweetener. And that’s before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.

Parental Thoughts and Discussion with Spoilers:

I was stunned that my daughter read this book.  I would rate it as an R rated book and not for a 12-year-old.  I actually had to address some of the scenes with my daughter and talk to her about them. My daughter loves apocalyptic stories, and Emmy Laybourne wrote the well known Monument 14 series which my daughter owns and has read many times and I am guessing this is why she was interested in this book.  I have not read the Monument series but plan to after reading this book.

The premise of the book is that a lot of wealthy people get to go on a cruise and take a new diet supplement before it is released to the general public. The book is inundated with people having a bad body image and wanting to lose weight regardless if it is needed.  This is true for everyone except the two main characters Laurel and Tom.  Most of the book is about the romance between these two characters. Laurel is not wealthy and a little overweight, but quite happy with her body and refuses to take the supplement.  Tom was an actor growing up and was very heavy.  He has spent a lot of time eating right and exercising to be thin. Thus, he is all natural and doesn’t take the supplement.  Those that took the supplement become very addicted to it and at the end turn into something similar to a cross between zombies and vampires, and the two love birds must find a way off the cruise ship to survive.

The zombie/vampire thing is only at the very end of the book, the majority of this book is about people trying to impress other people with their looks, money, and careers. This ties into the current culture for our children today with social media.  A lot of what happens on social media is showing images of themselves, their possessions, and what they are doing daily.  Their sense of self-worth becomes tied into looks, possessions, hobbies/careers, and how they measure up on these things to others.  This causes our sense of self-worth, purpose, and meaning to be tied up in what other’s think of us.

Society as a whole wants to ignore the existence of God because if there is no God, then others can determine who we are and what we should care about.  When there is a God, then our identity is a child of God.  When we recognize this identity, we care only about the opinion of God and what He says about our self-worth, purpose, and God gives our lives meaning. God created us in His image. It is through this identity in God we can recognize that we are loved just being who God created us to be.  We can take this love and turn it towards our neighbors just as God created them to be.  There is no need for a competition between anyone with their looks, possessions, or what they do. We are loved as we are and we should love others as they are.

Our identity is in being a child of God

This concept is found everywhere within the bible starting in the first chapter:

Gen 1:27 – God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.  30 – God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.

This concept is also found everywhere within the Catechism of the Catholic Church starting in the very first paragraph:

CCC 1 – In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.

God loves us

This concept is found everywhere in the bible and catechism as well.  Here are a few favorites:

John 15 9-12: As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment; love one another as I love you.

1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 3:1-3 – See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.  We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  Everyone who has this hope based on Him makes himself pure, as he is pure.





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