Author: Carolyn Astfalk
Publisher: Full Quiver Publishing
Age Range: 14/15 and up.
Carolyn Astfalk has written a courageous book that tackles a contemporary issue head on. Rightfully Ours explores the romantic relationship between two teenagers throughout a period of several years. We read how their lives and relationship develop as they grapple with their growing love and desire for each other. The story is alternatively sweet, confronting, adventurous and enticing. I believe teens will not be able to put it down once they have this book in their hands.
The characters who inhabit this story are likeable and well developed. We recognize them as ordinary and flawed, and yet they are all given the opportunity to become heroic by journey’s end. Our main young couple, Rachel and Paul, enjoy a fun-loving relationship as they navigate their lives as Catholic teens going to a Catholic school. Everybody in this book knows how to love, and they are all trying their best within the circumstances they find themselves.
The seasons pass and Rachel and Paul grow a little older. Carolyn Astfalk intersperses the growing sexual tension between this young couple with light-hearted moments. Flowers, sunshine, rain and the fresh smell of dirt mirror the freshness and vitality of Rachel and Paul as they navigate the confusion of thoughts and feelings they inevitably encounter. I enjoyed the fact that Carolyn Astfalk did not rush this story, but allowed her characters time to grow and flourish.
Carolyn Astfalk, author.
Meanwhile, another story is weaved in and out of the main narrative. The possibility of finding a buried treasure in their garden is a welcome diversion for the characters. Gold is the ultimate prize – but it turns out that it is not ‘rightfully theirs’. Astfalk cleverly provides a parallel story to explain that giving in to temptation and taking what is not really theirs to take will ultimately spoil the prize. I really loved how Carolyn Astfalk allowed her male lead to take responsibility for “not going further”. The couple decides by mutual agreement to wait until marriage to consummate their relationship. But it is Paul who seems to be the stronger one – setting the moral standard and actively taking responsibility for his actions. In this way, Paul is able to become a ‘hero’ and to demonstrate his love for Rachel in a truly heroic and loving way.
The book is very Catholic – characters go to Mass and confession and say the Rosary. But the characters are also endearing in their confusion and vulnerability as they do their best to steer their way in our contemporary world. Teens will love the book – I can imagine myself fainting with love for Paul when I was a young teen myself.
So, Highly Recommended: this book should be on the library shelves of every Catholic Senior School everywhere! You can buy Rightfully Ours HERE.
Teacher and Homeschool Ideas.
I would use this story for the mid-teens and up age group. Many teens will love exploring the issue of love, sex, marriage and commitment.
Read Life Teen blogpost : https://lifeteen.com/blog/tom-and-kate-marriage-impossible/ And discuss/answer these questions:
Is Marriage outdated?
Why does the writer think that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes marriage was built on sand? What does that mean?
I’d use this one for older teens: https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/marriage-and-family/sexuality/what-is-chastity-amp-how-can-i-be-chaste.html
It’s a good way to introduce the idea that “adultery” includes sex outside of marriage.
You might also ask teens to come up with their own list of strategies for how they can minimize the risk of ‘going too far’.
Read Catholic catechism 2336: which includes Matthew 5 27 – 28. (Committing adultery in your heart). Depending on the maturity/age range of young people you are teaching you might lead a discussion on pornography/the influence of contemporary culture. I would then ask students/teens to write an essay on the topic
“Being a Catholic aint easy”