Authentically Christian while being culturally respectful

Destiny at Dolphin Bay is a fantastic story following lead character Melissa as she spends time with her missionary sister's family in Chile due to some trouble at her Christian high school in the US. The author, Diana, does a wonderful job at integrating the culture of the country in which the lead character is visiting. As one who has gone on a two month mission trip, I really appreciate that the author shows the benefits of longer mission trips. The ability to form relationships with the people provide one with opportunities to get to know people in-depth and for them to get to know you. Being able to be fully immersed in a culture allows one to have a better understanding of the cultural values. Diana interweaves cultural aspects along with the lead characters spiritual journey in a very natural way. The spiritual aspects are also done very well and not at all forced. We see the struggles of some key characters and the path they are following impacted by their choices. Melissa has grown up in the church, we see her faith challenged in very real ways. We see a character name Nicolás who is native to the country. His spiritual journey is another that I especially enjoyed as he grew up participating in local religious customs which lacked a relational aspect.

From an encouragement to ones faith or an introduction to Christianity, the author meets the reader where they are at and does not force. The reader can learn from the book in a way that fits their own needs. This book would be great for middle school and up. For the younger ages this book presents an opportunity for parents to discuss Melissa's spiritual journey, her choices and challenges. This could be an amazing catalyst for some quality conversations that can lead to positive personal growth or sow the seeds for growth at a later time when led by the Lord. As adult I found this book very engaging presenting the challenges missionaries face when sharing their faith with people from a different culture. I learned a lot and hope many more enjoy this book!

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