Finding Sarah

A Phoenix to Behold

Young Adult - Coming of Age
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 01/29/2024
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Emma Megan for Readers' Favorite

Finding Sarah: A Phoenix to Behold by Nina Purtee is a gripping young adult coming-of-age novel. It follows Sarah Wilkinson as she rises from the ashes as a phoenix and discovers what she has to live for and offer to the world. At ten years old, Sarah's charmed life and happiness shatter instantly. Not only does her mother die, but her father also decides to leave her. Sarah ends up living with her grandmother and mourning the loss of her parents alone. However, Sarah's life starts to turn around for the better when she discovers her interest in art and painting. As art becomes the friend she is missing, she learns about the French artist Rosa Bonheur, born in the 1800s, and Sarah's determination to be the best artist she can be intensifies. Will Sarah find the courage to get past all the heartbreak and loss to build the future she deserves and soar like a phoenix?

Finding Sarah is a fabulous mix of intrigue, adventure, travel, mystery, and romance. This unforgettable and powerful YA novel is well-written. In it, a young artist experiences tragedy, sexual awakening, friendship, love, and heartbreak and learns to forgive and offer second chances. It is the kind of book that breaks your heart and then mends it, and you will finish it with a smile and a long, satisfied sigh. The characters are believable, relatable, skilled, empathic, and well-developed. Nina Purtee's book teaches the reader that it is possible to go into the future inspired by the past and not be burdened by it. I recommend it to anyone who loves to paint and enjoys coming-of-age stories, romances, and books with fierce female protagonists.

K.C. Finn

Finding Sarah: A Phoenix to Behold is a work of fiction in the coming-of-age, interpersonal drama, and inspirational writing subgenres. It is intended for young adult and adult readers to enjoy. Penned by author Nina Purtee, this compelling narrative follows the journey of Sarah Wilkinson, a passionate painter whose artistic talent is influenced by the struggles of two historical female artists. Set in the rich context of the Annie’s Journey series, the story reveals Sarah's life, from living in a tent in the Serengeti, painting wild animals, to confronting her painful past and navigating the competitive art world. Sarah's character is both relatable and resilient, and her journey becomes a symbol of overcoming adversity and embracing one's true potential.

Author Nina Purtee has crafted a highly engaging coming-of-age tale that’s an emotional and inspiring experience as it weaves together elements of art, friendship, and personal growth. The narrative is well-paced and reveals lots of interesting elements that build as the story grows, exploring the impact of Annie's friendship on Sarah's life and unraveling increasingly fascinating layers of Sarah's life. Purtee's writing is evocative and poignant, capturing the essence of Sarah's struggles and triumphs through unique lenses from the art world. The exploration of art as a means of self-expression and healing adds a beautiful dimension to the story as the book celebrates the artistic spirit and also highlights the strength found in meaningful connections and self-discovery. In this very special way, the work encourages readers to reflect on their own journeys, challenges, and the potential for growth, making it a compelling read for those seeking inspiration and a deeper understanding of the resilience inherent in the human experience. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend Finding Sarah for creative and passionate YA readers everywhere.

Amy Raines

In Finding Sarah: A Phoenix to Behold by Nina Purtee, after being badly burned, Sarah’s mother dies. Her father couldn’t stand to see the child who looked so much like his recently deceased wife, so he left Sarah to be raised by her grandmother. Sarah began painting and learning good techniques that made her work exceptional. Sarah went on to take acting classes at school as well. Sara’s grandmother became sick and told her something about her father that confused her. She receives a letter after her father’s death that gives her new insight into the man who had left her after her mother’s death. Sara goes to art school in Paris and discovers a whole new world of freedom to explore her own identity. With a newfound love in her heart, Sarah tries to keep in contact with her loved ones as she attempts to find her place in the world.

Finding Sarah: A Phoenix to Behold is a beautiful story that takes a young woman through the thick and thin of the world of art. The easy-going characters Sarah meets along the way help to round out the storyline with the familiarity of family, friendships, and romance. I love the way Sarah has a zest for living and learning, even when her heart is broken. This story gives a unique and inspiring take on the importance of self-discovery and self-love. I recommend Finding Sarah by Nina Purtee to young adults and adults who enjoy a relaxing story that is both realistic and entertaining.