Monday, April 26, 2010
Book Review for Scenarios For Girls Books 3 and 4
Molly Jacobs isn't sure what she should do: Should she follow through with stealing some clothes for her friends from Magna the trendy girls clothing store where she works? Or should she do what she knows is right, even if it means losing her newfound popularity?
Kate Walker joins the swim team and becomes obsessed with practice and making it through the championships with flying colors. What will Kate do when she's faced with pressure from her teammates to take an illegal substance that will help her swim multiple events in their championship meet?
A few months ago I had the privilege of reading Nicole O'Dell's first books in her Scenarios For Girls series. They are a unique twist on the old choose-your-own adventure books aimed at tween girls age 10-15 in which the main character finds herself in a morally compromising situation. At the point in the book where the character has to make a choice, the reader gets to choose as well, and then read the ending that comes from that decision. Two choices, two endings.
In the next two books in the series, O'Dell creates two more very relateable characters, Molly and Kate, along with their group of friends, some truer than others, and two situations any young girl could easily find herself facing.
As much as I liked the first books, I liked these even more. O'Dell has clearly continued to hone her gift of writing stories girls will identify with and has managed to avoid getting into the predictable pattern and plot lines that so many series fall prey to.
My daughter, who is still a bit young for these books, is an avid swimmer and anxious to read Making Waves. I can easily see this as a great tool for talking with her about how quickly small decisions lead to bigger ones, and how doing something marginally acceptable - like chugging energy drinks and relying on caffeine pills to give you an edge in competition - can lead to more difficulty saying no to illegal substances like speed.
Anyone who has been involved in swim teams will feel right at home in this book. Another thing I loved was the less-than-traditional family of Kate. While her other books centered around traditional Christian families, O'Dell gives Kate a widowed mom, lending the book another layer of complexity that adds to the real pressure and emotional weight Kate feels.
My favorite of these two though, and probably of all four so far, was Magna. I really liked Molly, and the dialog between her and her friends rang very true. The "villains" in the book also rang true, in that delicious way the teens will love to hate them. I loved that Molly really, really wanted to do the right things, and she worked so hard for them. I liked that she had a supportive church and family, and yet the book never got preachy.
The characters in these books seem older than the ones in the first two, and in a good way they are less naive and more aware of the seriousness of their situations. Like the first books, these provide safe, Christian reading for young girls, a hole in publishing these days.
If you have a daughter 10-15, I highly recommend both of these books, and I look forward to more in the near future!