Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review: Anything but Normal by Melody Carlson

Anything but Normal
I have to admit when I started reading this book (which I accepted because of the author alone) I was nervous it was going to be nothing but a Christian version of Juno and Secret Life of an American Teenager. And in some ways it was, but it occurred to me that there wasn't a good book for YA girls from a Christian perspective about getting pregnant. I think there have been a lot of books for the adult market in Christian fiction but not so much the YA market.

Anything but Normal is the story of Sophie, a girl who gets seduced by a boy at church summer camp and winds up pregnant. Sophie made a purity pledge at her church and her best friend is the pastor's daughter, but Sophie's parents aren't involved in the church or even her life really. This makes it extremely possible for Sophie to hid her pregnancy for a long period of time.

I thought a lot of things Sophie went through were realistic, from living in denial to all of the issues she faced with her judgmental friends. I was a little nervous that the book was going to focus heavily on being pro-life at the expense of Sophie's genuine emotions and experience, but I was actually pleased that while there was a little bit of that mixed into the story, this was more the story of how Sophie dealt with being pregnant. I was pleased that Carlson took the approach she did, that she didn't glorify purity pledges and didn't demonize Sophie. In this way, I often find Melody Carlson's books refreshing, she's not as conservative as many other Christian fiction writers.

Having said that, I think she's almost too prolific. The writing is very simple and the whole second half of the book was much too rushed and didn't dig deeply enough into Sophie's reality for me. Still, it's a much needed conversation starter for the Christian YA market. And parents? Don't wait until your teens are 17 to let them read this. I recommend much younger. It's not graphic or explicit.

Rating: 3.75/5
Things You Might Want to Know: Christian fiction
Source of Book: Review copy received from publisher
Publisher: Revell


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