All That It Takes by Nicole Deese is a captivating novel that focuses on protagonists Val and Miles. Val is a 29-year-old single mom who has moved across the country with her pre-teen son to start an exciting job, and she rents an apartment from her best friend’s brother, Pastor Miles McKenzie. Deese writes her characters with compassion and clarity; I could really feel Val’s emotions as she embarks on this new life change, and when she receives a professional letdown towards the beginning of the book, I could really see her disappointment.
A friendship forms between Val and Miles, but there are a few hiccups along the way, including some initial miscommunication regarding Val’s rental situation; Miles’ sister thought he had given approval to rent out his apartment, but he actually had not. However, when Miles returns home after being on a mission trip, unaware that his sister has already helped Val and her son Tucker move into part of his home, this creates a comical situation. Throughout the book, the author wisely uses characters’ miscommunication and awkward timing as a way to introduce humorous scenarios.
Val narrates some of the book’s chapters, whereas Miles narrates other chapters. Though each lead character has a variety of good qualities, I especially liked Miles’ thoughtfulness and Val’s ambition. I liked how the author put a lot of focus on Val advancing her career in film. The novel has a true to life feel; for instance, the author sometimes has characters text each other instead of always speaking in person, creating a realistic feel of how we sometimes communicate with one another in this digital age. It was nice to see Miles and Val be able to separately pursue things they were each passionate about – such as church ministry and film – but still share common interests and goals. I liked seeing Val and Miles band together and help out Carlee, a pregnant teen. All That It Takes was an enjoyable read, and I definitely want to check out other books by Nicole Deese.