Cartoon of girl jumping into water where guy waits

About the Book

Title: Never Saw You Coming
Published: 2021
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Cover Story: Cartoon Cutesy
BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh
Talky Talk: Youth Group
Factor: Religion
Anti-Bonus Factor: Awful Grown-ups
Relationship Status: Losing My Religion

Cover Story: Cartoon Cutesy

They got the details right, but the cartoon cutesy cover style has become so ubiquitous that it’s hard to be super jazzed about one anymore. I also thought the tagline used on this cover was a bit inaccurate. Sure, she went looking for answers and found him…but she also found answers! Possibly answers that are bigger and more important than him!

The Deal:

Meg has just graduated from high school when she finds out that her whole life has been a lie. Her conservative, religious parents who raised her in an Evangelical church finally admit that Meg’s dad…isn’t her dad. Her mom got knocked up by the lead singer of an alternative Christian band in high school and married her best friend to cover it up. But after 18 years of marriage, they can’t keep up the charade anymore, and Meg’s adoptive father leaves town.

Determined to find out the truth about her life, Meg heads north to find her father’s mother and brother. But when she arrives in town she also meets Micah, the son of a disgraced pastor who is currently waiting on his probation hearing. Micah has his own complicated relationship with the church, clearly, and feels pressure from everyone in his life to forgive his father.

As Meg and Micah grow closer, they struggle to learn who they are outside of the church they’ve always known.

BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh

BFF charm with Roger Murtagh from Lethal Weapon's face.

From the moment Meg said she was known for wearing fairy wings everywhere she went, I knew I was too old for this shit. But Meg’s immaturity is completely understandable, considering the conservative Christian environment she was raised in. I mean, how the hell are you supposed to mature if you aren’t allowed to watch R-rated movies? But that said…are you ready to be doing sex stuff if you can’t even speak aloud the words for the sex stuff you’re doing? I was trying to be patient with Meg, given her circumstances, but at the end of the day – and I say this from my heart – this girl needs a lot of therapy.

Hell, EVERYONE in this book needs a lot of therapy.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Micah is a legit cutie. Rugged and employed, he works at the local outdoor outfitters store selling Patagonia fleece jackets and leading adventure tours. And Micah’s had his own issues with the church ever since his priest father was imprisoned for a smattering of unsavory actions.

The romance between Meg and Micah started out SUPER strong. Very good, innocent, butterfly-inducing swoon happening betwixt these pages! But alas, they lost their momentum in the second half. I think Hahn could’ve spent a little longer on build-up, because much of the romance in the second half of the story felt melodramatic. There were a lot of existential and moral freak-outs every time they made out that had me rolling my eyes a bit.

Talky Talk: Youth Group

In the epilogue, Hahn calls this “alternative Christian fiction” and I sort of wish I’d known this before I read it. I’m probably not the best person to review Christian fiction of any sort. Hahn is a great contemporary fiction writer: her characters didn’t feel too one dimensional, her jokes landed, her romance was swoony.

For me, the complications are with the messaging. I think the idea here is that a lot of Christianity, and a lot of Christians, is/are imperfect and will undoubtedly let you down, but God won’t. And even as a non-religious person, that’s a sentiment I can generally get behind. Hahn certainly calls out the problems with fire-and-brimstone preaching, but even her characters who are learning the error of their ways still backtrack often enough that it was hard for me to like them.

Factor: Religion

As previously mentioned, this book is considered “alternative Christian fiction.” That may be a bonus for some, an anti-bonus for others. I think whichever side of that balance beam you fall on, this book will most likely be either too religious for your tastes or not religious enough.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Awful Grown-Ups

Boxtrolls characters

Phew, girl, this book was CHOCK full of awful grown-ups. Meg’s dad: the worst! Meg’s mom: Not great! Even James, who is written as ~not a regular church-going uncle but a cool church-going uncle~, still couldn’t escape his super shitty religious hangups at times.

AND DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED on the church adults. Everyone seemed to have a really weird obsession with these teen girls’ sexual encounters and modesty and it made me super uncomf.

Relationship Status: Losing My Religion

I definitely think there’s a need for this book. With so many teens figuring themselves out under the roofs of Evangelical or conservative Christian parents, religion can cause trauma that takes years to unpack and process. I grew up in a household where church was more about love and less about fire and brimstone, but I still felt triggered by some aspects of this story. Ultimately, the main characters were likable, but the whole thing was just too…religious for me.

Literary Matchmaking

The Names They Gave Us

Emery Lord’s The Names They Gave Us follows a girl struggling with her faith at a new camp after years of attending the same church camp.


In Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert, Braden’s dad, a Christian talk show host ends up in prison and his life is turned upside down.

Have a Little Faith in Me

For a book about a girl bumping up against conservative Christian expectations, check out Sonia Hartl’s Have a Little Faith in Me.

FTC Full Disclosure: I did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the gross cranberry ones) for writing this review. Never Saw You Coming is available now.

Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.