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It’s Complicated by Laura L. Smith

Book Overview:

momsread.comIt’s Complicated is the first book in the Status Updates which follows the story of Claire, Hannah, Palmer, and Kat, new freshman college roommates. The four friends learn to pull together as they navigate through life changing circumstances.

Positive Content:

Ms. Smith deftly portrays four very different girls, as they tell their stories–both individual and collective–in their own words. The author tackles some difficult topics in a realistic manner, but she manages to keep the story hopeful and inspiring.

Young Adult readers will relate to the dilemmas and decisions the main characters face. Drama and trauma are interwoven with funny and embarrassing moments.

momsread.comIt’s Complicated introduces the main characters during the end of their summer and first weeks of school. Readers will definitely want to tune back in for the remaining four books in the Status Updates series to find out what happens to Claire, Hannah, Palmer, and Kat.

Due to a couple of adult situations, parents and teachers may determine that this material is inappropriate for middle grade students. It’s Complicated
Status Updates series (Book 1)
Laura L. Smith
Playlist Young Adult Fiction
Date:  April 1, 2013
131 pages (approximate count, varies by eBook reader)
Lexile : 610L (based on a sample)

Content to Consider: (Spoilers)


  • Claire’s date lures her to his room and rapes her. The attack, told from Claire’s point of view, is short and not graphic, although she leaves no doubt about what has happened to her.

Crude, Vulgar, or Profane Language: NONE


  • Palmer’s long-term high school boyfriend pressures her to have sex with her to prove that she loves him. She resists, but not before it’s almost too late. Their physical relationship has spiraled out of control, and he cannot keep his hands off of her. She, in turn, lets passion cloud her judgement.
  • Kat makes out with a guy she knows isn’t the sort of boy she can take home to meet the parents.
  • Claire’s mom discovers that her serious boyfriend is already married.

 Drug/Alcohol: OCCASIONAL

  • Claire is pressured to drink wine on at least two occasions while in France, even though she’s underage in the United States. She definitely drinks too much the last time. This leads to the assault mentioned above.
  • Kat’s new friend and fellow soccer player uses “K2,” a synthetic form of marijuana, to relax and deal with stress. He compares it to drinking wine. She refuses his offer to share.
  • A random stranger offers to buy Palmer a beer.

Negative Content:

  • Claire’s father walked out on her mother when Claire was seven. Claire’s mother goes from one relationship to another. This distorts Claire’s perspective on men.
  • Kat decides to get a stud in her nose (Sounds funny, doesn’t it?) without her parents’ consent. She knows her mother won’t approve.
  • Palmer’s mother seems overly concerned about appearances, nagging Palmer about staying trim.

Spiritual Content:

  • All of the girls claim to be Christian.
  • Kat meets Palmer at a cafe and says, “…Mama always makes us get fancy for church…I came straight from there.” Kat’s family has moved several times, so they’ve “switched churches a lot.”
  • Claire keeps her Bible and a journal beneath her pillow. She says she attends church back home.
  • Palmer admits to being a Christian and always wears a silver cross necklace. It bothers her that her boyfriend’s family doesn’t pray before meals.
  • After the attack, Claire seems convinced that she’s too dirty for God to love.

My Personal Opinions:

I must confess that contemporary realistic books–especially books written in present tense–are not my favorite cup of tea, but it’s my opinion that other mature adult readers who–like me–frequently read YA fiction may find the style too telling. These accounts read like a young girl’s diary. That’s fine, up to a point, but the constant emotional input from the four girls, revealing all of their feelings through “I feel” and “I felt” statements exhausted me.

That said, Laura L. Smith hits the sweet spot for her intended audience of young women on the threshold of life. This is an inspirational novel that fits neatly under the heading of Christian contemporary YA fiction. However, at least in the first book, there is no overt “altar call” as is found in some inspirational fiction. This is the way Christian fiction should be written, keeping things real and addressing the difficult questions we face.

For Young Adult/New Adult readers, It’s Complicated will fly past and end too soon, and they will want to pick up each new installment as soon as it’s available.

About the Author:

Laura L. Smith

Laura L. Smith is the author of the new Status Updates series. Her first book in this series is It’s Complicated. She loves God, her husband, her four children, writing and speaking. She writes real stories for real young women. Her previous books include: SkinnyHot, and Angry.

She is a featured columnist at Choose Now Ministries and speaks at schools, churches, and campuses around the country. Smith lives in the college town of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.


Book Trailer:

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I received the ARC for this book, but I have no financial stake in this work. My opinions are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.    Send article as PDF   
About the Author

Kathrese McKee started life as a Systems Engineer at EDS, spent time in real estate, taught middle grade Reading and ESL in Texas, and settled down to blog and write speculative fiction for Young Adults.

As a teacher, she fell in love with books written for Teens and Young Adults. Her favorite books are “coming of age” stories about young people on the difficult road of self-discovery.


  1. Beautiful, thoughtful review! These four friends have a lot to teach high school and college girls.

  2. Thanks for the wonderful and detailed review of It’s Complicated. I appreciate all of the disclaimers and your kind comments about the book. Great blog and site, Kathrese!

    • Laura, I appreciate your heart for God and for reaching out to this demographic of readers about issues with the potential to harm them–eating disorders, sexual misadventures, date rape, etc. As I said in my review, this is the way Christian fiction should be written–“keeping things real and addressing the difficult questions.” And you manage to make your story fun and engaging, too, no small feat.

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