Book Review: “Fifteen Minutes” by Karen Kingsbury

I’ve long been a fan of Karen Kingsbury. In my opinion, she writes some of the best contemporary fiction out there – true heart-wrenching stories that ALWAYS make me cry. Her newest, “Fifteen Minutes” , is no exception. It follows the experience of Zack Dylan, a country boy at heart who wants to sing and give glory to God. His time on the mega reality show singing competition “Fifteen Minutes” propels him to stardom– and threatens to change him into a self-centered celebrity, like so many before him.

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Synopsis: Zack Dylan made a promise to God and his college sweetheart as he left his family’s horse farm in Kentucky to compete on the popular reality television show Fifteen Minutes: If he makes it, the fame won’t change him. 

Overnight, Zack is the nation’s most popular contestant, a country singer with the looks and voice of a young Elvis. As his star rises, Zack is asked to compromise and quiet his beliefs, and also some­thing more. Something Zack could never have imagined. Just as America is falling in love with Zack, just as he’s on the verge of winning it all, his choices lead him to the brink of personal disaster. 

At the same time, Reese Weatherly, a thera­peutic horse instructor, is no longer sure about her relationship with Zack, or the wedding they had dreamed about. While Zack advances from one round of the competition to the next, an offer comes to Reese—one that will take her to a home halfway around the world. 

Then Chandra Olson—reigning diva pop star and one of the Fifteen Minutes judges—intervenes. Chandra has suffered so much public pain and pri­vate agony since her days as a Fifteen Minutes contestant. Now she wants just one thing: meaning. 

Can Chandra’s private losses help Zack find his way, or will his fifteen minutes of fame cause him to lose the life he once loved? Fifteen Minutes is a story of character, compromise, and the cost of having it all. A story that raises the question: Who are the real winners?

Karen has penned a story that readers are caught up in from the beginning. One thing that makes Fifteen Minutes unique and compelling is its inside exploration of the rise of a “celebrity”. We are often and easily caught up in the latest trends and popular shows. This story gives a fictional account of what could really happen to someone who gets caught between serving God and serving themselves. It shows that, ultimately, people aren’t supposed to be worshipped – that God is the one who deserves our praise.

The situations Zack Dylan faces provide a clear example of how, even someone strong in their faith, can be led astray by worldly desires while pursuing a worthy goal – to give glory to God. Judge Chandra Olsen reaches out to Zack to show him that everything has a price – every decision made, no matter how small, has a cost and consequences. Zack experiences firsthand the cost of fame and the consequences of his actions.

Ultimately, Fifteen Minutes asks these questions: “What are you willing to give up to achieve your goals on this earth?” and “Is it really worth it?” Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Fifteen Minutes. It follows a poignant story of Zack’s journey and his time on Fifteen Minutes. It illustrates how Jesus loves everyone, no matter our failures. He will never abandon us – and He always waits for us to come back home to Him.

I can’t wait to see what happens next for both Zack Dylan and Reese! I feel that this is the start of another great series by Karen!

Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review through NetGalley.

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