Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Me, Just Different by Stephanie Morrill

This is a complicated review for me to write...kind of like the novel. Stephanie Morrill is definitely going to be a YA author to watch...but I was left with mixed feelings as I closed the book.

"Me, Just Different" chronicles the life of high school senior Skylar Hoyt. Her gorgeous Hawaiian coloring and highly outgoing personality have made Skylar a leader among her group, but that isn't necessarily a good thing.

After a night of partying goes rapidly wrong, Skylar feels indebted to her rescuer, Eli, and agrees to become his girlfriend. Which complicates things for their group, because Eli used to date Skylar's best friend, Jodi.

Filled with all the drama you'd expect from high school--and more--the novel reads true to life. Something I found rather heart-breaking. I remember how hard it was navigating the high school rapids when I went back in the early eighties.

My, how times have changed!

Plus, Skylar's home life is deteriorating at a speed she can't keep up with. This part reads like a script from "The Secret Life of the American Teenager". Unfortunately, I know this is all too common as well. And it, too, was heartbreaking.

The characters are well crafted, as is the storyline. Although, a bit dizzying, which is to be expected when you're dealing with a group of four teen girls.

What disturbed me the most, and I'm trying SO HARD not to be judging here, was the lack of faith message. A direct faith message...like you need Jesus in your life to make it.

Church is mentioned. Youth group is mentioned. Even prayer is mentioned...but no real point of salvation in Jesus. And that left me a bit disturbed. There truly is no way to navigate life without Jesus as our guide.

And for a Christian novel written for today's teens and young adults...that seems a vital element. But, we're just at the beginning of the series. I'm going to see where Stephanie takes this bunch of giggling, bickering friends.

Until then, I'm giving "Me, Just Different" a hestitant three out of five bookmarks. One last thought...I felt like I came into the series at least one or two books into it already, but all of my internet research indicated this was the first novel.

So, if I'm wrong on that, someone please let me know.

Happy Reading!


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Anonymous said...

HA HA! Your review caught my eye off of another blog because of the author's last name. It was a "hey wait a minute" moment. My last name isn't exactly common and it drew my attention.

Anyways! I liked your review. I love honest reviews!

Kim said...

Deena - This was a very honest and balanced review. Great job!!

Stephanie Morrill said...

You're right, Deena. Me, Just Different is the first book in the series. Book two comes out in January.

Roseanna White said...

I think you hit the nail on the head by calling this series "complicated." I'm pretty sure Stephanie is trying to reach out to the masses of teen girls in Skylar's shoes . . . and that requires balance. Skylar's realization of faith comes in small steps, and while the faith message is understated, it's still a pointed finger. "Go here. Talk to these people. Don't rely on yourself."

Skylar may not hit people over the head with what a friend of mine would call "Dropping the 'J-bomb'" (breaking out the name Jesus right and left when witnessing ), but leading by example is often just as effective in bringing people into a place where Jesus can be discussed freely.

Great topic of discussion! I love getting various opinions on what people feel is a good "level of religion," so to speak, in Christian books. I think it depends largely on the book and its target audience.

Deena Peterson said...

This is why it took me three days to write the review:-) I knew the author was heading somewhere...but working with teens, I wanted them (the girls in the novel and in real life) pointed to Jesus, not just church.

In my humble opinion, church itself has caused a lot of hurt and damage in many lives...but Jesus only loves us and cares for us.

When we go to 'church' to find answers and don't walk away with Jesus, I think we set ourselves up for more disappointment and pain.

BUT, I try to never judge a series by its first novel....and the book is SO WELL WRITTEN...that I couldn't really ding it very hard.

And that's just my personal preference, having raised three teens and with one wandering away from her faith. So my issues and concerns may differ from the target audience.

So, please walk away knowing this is a GREAT novel...I, as a mom, wanted just a BIT more faith:0)