Monday, November 2, 2009

Fun Fall Fiction

"Diary of a Teenage Girl: What Matters Most" by Melody Carlson is a shockingly good book. It is number three in the diary series of Maya and the last volume of the "Diary of a Teenage Girl" series. (It is number 16, but the series has other books from other girls' perspectives, not just Maya's.) Readers don't need to read the other books to understand this one, but, after completing this one, they will want to. Maya is a teenage girl that is half white and half black. Her father is a famous musical artist, and her mother is an incarcerated train wreck. Writing an ecological newspaper column, working on TV, and studying, Maya has her hands full. In her past, she has done modeling work (possibly expounded upon in the earlier books). Beautiful, the ex-boyfriend of a top cheerleader has his eyes on Maya. This causes animosity between the cheerleader and Maya, with drama ensuing. Also, Maya's ex-boyfriend but still friend Dominic has feelings for her (also possibly detailed in book 1 and 2 of Maya's diary). Later on in the book, Maya's mother comes back from jail, and a local band asks Maya to join. While only a couple of months are detailed in this book, readers will feel as if they are looking down on Maya as she lives and goes about her day to day life. The choices Maya makes about her mother, her band, and her enemies truly reflect Christian values. This is a great gift for teenage girls that will compel them to read the diaries of the other girls, as well as the first two of Maya to squeeze the juicy details out of all sixteen diary books. Fantastic to say the very least.

"Limelight" by Melody Carlson is a book geared towards older readers. The main character is an ex-actress in her eighties. In her heyday, she was the one of most beautiful and gorgeous women around. However, in the current age, she is alone and bitter. Her looks have faded with the years, and her husband is deceased. To make matters worse, she has little to no money. This is due to the fact that, when her husband was alive, he eluded the IRS. This leaded to the government repossessing the actress' possessions and tapping most of her money. As the story begins, the woman is in a nursing home of sorts. Tired of such a mundane setting, this ex-actress flees to an old friend who has a real house. This friend happens to be homosexual. The book gets controversial and may not sit well with certain Christian readers. When the woman and the homosexual friend discuss religion, the woman does not tell him that his lifestyle is wrong. The friend goes to church because Jesus loves him (which is true of all people), but no one in the book points out what a grave sin the man is committing against God. Anyway, as the book progresses, the woman moves to an old house from her hometown that is in her name. It is run down, but it is shelter nonetheless. Once there, the woman reconnects with her estranged sister and makes some new friends. In the end, she feels better and is no longer suicidal / depressed in her old age. There is more description than dialog, and the book moves a bit slowly, but older readers may enjoy it.

"Leaving Carolina" by Tamara Leight is an unusual book. It centers around a woman named Piper. She is from down south and has an odd family history. One of her uncles comes clean to a less-than-perfect life and wants to make up for it by altering his last will and testament. Urged by others, Piper visits her uncle to try and bring him to his senses. While there, Piper encounters her uncle's robust and rugged gardener. The reader will think of this man as the Brawny paper towel man with more facial hair and a ponytail. At the same time, Piper is in a relationship with a congressman. She is not engaged to him yet, but she wishes she were. Things go downhill when the congressman ignores her for work and is rumored to run off with other women. Throughout the book, Piper's family secrets come out of the closet with much southern colloquialism. Depending on the reader's perspective, this book will either be seen as remarkably charming or remarkably annoying. The romance in the book is not raunchy, but it is a bit superficial. The storyline as a whole is reminiscent of a mix between a Lifetime series and Desperate Housewives. In any case, readers will definitely be surprised by this book.

These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

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