“Invaluable” by Holly J. Wood is a young adult novel featuring 16-year-old Eliza Moore, who navigates through her challenges by turning toward the wisdom of her great-grandmother and the Young Women values of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Eliza faces typical teenage problems — a best friend who’s growing away from her, a drifting sister, a crush on the wrong guy, the prospect of having to work on Sundays and possibly failing her math class.
As Eliza struggles to handle these issues, she begins to have dreams in which her great-grandmother visits her, showing her remarkable women from the past who each embody one of the eight Young Women’s values. As Eliza acts or fails to act on each value, she learns about how vital, in fact, invaluable, each trait really is.
Wood is a first-time novelist, and the beginning of the book is somewhat slow, taking almost 60 pages to really set up. But by the end, Wood has gained momentum and ends "Invaluable" with a flourish.
It’s an uplifting book, and perhaps its greatest accomplishment is not just re-emphasizing how important the Young Women values are, but its ability to show how one girl actually applies the values in everyday circumstances.
It’s an easy read for young adults and is appropriate for younger teens/tweens as well. At times there are long chunks of dialogue in which Eliza’s great-grandmother, also named Eliza, narrates historical accounts. These blocks of dialogue can at times become cumbersome.
In all, however, the story blends a clean teen romance, historical nonfiction accounts and inspirational fiction with the magic of fantasy, as objects or “value tokens” from Eliza’s dreams show up in her waking hours. There are even a few unexpected plot twists that add some reality to the story.
The novel gracefully and tastefully takes on pornography, cheating, teen drinking and even more subtle issues like technology dependence, unnecessary dieting, modesty, judging others and steady dating.
The book also has discussion questions at the end to facilitate dialogue between young women and their parents or leaders. It’s a gem of a little book that showcases the applicability and importance of the Young Women values in a readable and relatable way.
IF YOU GO ...
What: Holly J. Wood book signing
When: Saturday, Feb. 11, 11:30 a.m.
Where: Deseret Book, 754 N. Main, Layton
When: Saturday, Feb. 11, 2 p.m.
Where: Deseret Book, 135 N. 545 West, West Bountiful
When: Saturday, March 3, 11:30 a.m.
Where: Deseret Book — Fort Union, 1110 Fort Union Blvd., Midvale
When: Saturday, March 3, 2:30 p.m.
Where: Deseret Book — University Village, 1076 S. 750 East, Orem
Miranda H. Lotz is a military wife, mother of four, bibliophile and musician. She lives on a remote Air Force station in Cavalier, N.D.