Perhaps you remember reading Anne of Green Gables as a child. Do you remember what Anne called her closest, dearest friend? If not, I will remind you– kindred spirits. If you ever hear the word “kindred,” this might be what you think of. You have probably figured out by now the word “kindred” reminds me of Anne. There is a small word within the word kindred (kin). Now, what do you consider “kin” to mean? So what if your kindred spirit was someone related to you, someone that lived generations before you, and there is no possible way you could ever meet? I know sounds weird and possibly crazy. However, that is the logical, factual belief because we cannot travel back in time.

Kindred is a neo slave novel that begins its story with a black woman married to a white man in the 20th century. That alone could be troublesome in some parts of the country, even in the 1950s. Add in the ability to travel back in time to a time when slavery was still in existence and something interesting is bound to happen.

I really enjoyed this book because of the sense of mystery and suspend Octavia Butler continues to build. This story is great to use as a supplemental text when studying US History during the time of slavery. The text could also be used in an American Literature class, which is precisely why I read this book. A warning to teachers, parents, and students– language is a recurring issue in this book. Abuse and rape are also present themes that were often associated with slavery. If used as a resource, it may be a good idea to put forth this information for parents so that they are aware. However, these topics can be tactfully discussed. I recommend that students read Kindred with guidance of a teacher. Have you read Kindred? Do you think it is appropriate for teens? I would love to hear your thoughts.


Where does fault lie?

fault-in-starsFor a young adult/teen fictional book, this story has a deep philosophical perspective. The thing I love about this book is that even though it is fiction, it could be a true story, I can picture a child/teen going through a difficult situation and having the opinions and personalities similar to Hazel and the other teens. The thing we have to understand is that while this may be a story about a girl with a terminal illness, it also is a story about how difficulties come at many ages and stages in life.

For me, this is important because it can serve as a reminder that we all go through trials. It does not matter how old we are. Fact, sometimes kids get cancer and other types of terminal illnesses. It’s a big deal to anyone at any age. Had the author not used this extreme, we probably would not appreciate the story near as much, and it certainly would not impact such a large audience. The fact of the matter is that all people go through different things throughout the stages of life. Being not too far removed from the teenage life, I understand that a crisis or family matter has a strong impact on them and the decisions that they make. So often I feel as though we dismiss the crisis and writ it off as “teen drama.” Don’t forget, you were there once. I digress…

In case you haven’t figured out through my ranting, The Fault in Our Stars is about a girl that has a terminal cancer and it affects her lungs to the point that she has to be on oxygen. Hazel hates that her luna fail her, and she especially hates that her parents are “burdened” with the constant care the believe Hazel needs.

Hazel’s mom encourages her to go to a support group for young cancer patients. Hazel greatly dislikes going, but she agrees to go for her mom’s sake. One day a new boy shows up, and he seems interested in Hazel. He insists on learning her story (not her cancer story). They become very close friends very quickly. For Hazel, this friend shows her that life goes beyond her cancer story, and he helps her realize that it’s important to continue living rather than to focus on dying.

While I truly love and enjoy this story, I am slightly concerned about the use of language and the acceptance of some actions of the teens. I understand that these kids are hurting and need a way to express that, but using foul language is really not the best, most constructive way to get that out. The second issue I have is the idea that because they are going to die a premature death anyway, they get a free pass to do whatever they want even if it is sexual in nature.

Overall the story is amazing and the author has a way drawing you in. I highly encourage you to read the book before watching the movie. You will appreciate the intelligence and research by John Green to write such a beautiful fictional story.


Taking or Borrowing

notebook-book-thiefTaking and borrowing are very different things. If you know right from wrong, you know that borrowing is okay if you have asked permission from the owner to use something. However, borrowing with the intent of keeping (aka stealing) is socially unacceptable. Why then, do I feel compelled to empathize with Leisel Meminger, a book thief? I enjoy reading just as much as the next person, but the one time was accused of borrowing a book from the library and never returned it, I felt awful about it. It had my stomach in knots even though I knew I had returned the book, but the library could not find it, and they wanted us to pay for it. Long story short, they found the book in questions (whew). However, Leisel takes one book and as a reader you might feel kind of sorry for her.

Here’s the backdrop for the story. Leisel is a girl living in Nazi Germany. She lives with a foster family after her brother dies and mother leaves. The kicker is that Leisel does not know the first thing about reading, so she goes to school and learns to read with the help of her foster father. Leisel is a bit mischievous, but her heart is good and she means well. That does not mean she never finds herself in trouble. Her mother even has a nickname for her. The Book Thief is a story filled with difficulties, learning curves, and lifelong friendships. While it is a hefty book, you’ll find yourself wanting to turn the next page to find out what happens next.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was recently made into a film, and from what I can tell, it did rather well. I enjoyed both the book and the film, but I highly recommend you read the book before watching the film. I will say the film does a pretty good job sticking to the storyline. It is one of the better films based on a book that I have seen.

Markuz Zusak is a fabulous writer who is also known for writing The Messenger. He certainly did his research, and the historical background descriptions are very well depicted in his choice of words.  Zusak does a wonderful job telling Leisel’s incredible story. I highly recommend this book to mature teen and young adult readers. If you enjoy reading historical fiction, then you will enjoy this book. Barnes and Noble recommends this book for readers ages 12-17 years old. I would like to warn parents that moderate language is present. Although the words are in German, the English interpretation is given. I hope you enjoy reading this historical fiction novel as I did.

Burnt Bridges are Hard to Overcome

bridgeHave you ever been through a trial in your life, and you thought it would be easier to just cut all ties, leave everything, and start all over? That is exactly how two characters in Francine Rivers’ newest novel, Bridge to Haven, felt. Francine Rivers is an award winning author of Christian fiction novels. You may know her most by her best-selling book Redeeming Love. This “prodigal son” story brings to light some very difficult situations a child like Abra might experience. Abandoned at birth, Abra is a foster/adoptive child that does not feel loved though she is very well loved and cared for by her adoptive parents. This is an intriguing story about a girl who seemed to be unloved (in her eyes), but she is rather beloved in her hometown of Haven.

Abra was a character that was easy to fall in love with and empathize with, yet she made you want to so much for her eyes to be opened to the truth. How much heartache could have been saved in your life had you “seen the light” early on in your own experience? Unfortunately, like Abra, we burn every single bridge before we realize what we’ve lost and begin to rebuild  a bridge that leads us back to the place and people we love most.  I really enjoyed reading the latest book by Francine Rivers, but I caution young readers as many mature themes are explored. Such themes include rape, mild forms of exploitation, and other intimate relations. Moms of teens that love to read Christian fiction, you may want to do a book club style reading or read the book, and make the decision that is best for your family in regards to letting your teen girl read this novel.

Bridge to Haven is available for purchase at Lifeway,, and Barnes & Noble. The novel is also available in the Nook and Kindle versions. If you’ve read the book, what are your thoughts on the novel? If you have not already read the book, I encourage to add it to your summer reading list.

Are you balanced?

Balancing it All by Candace Cameron Bure is probably one of the most applicable books written for the woman of our day. If your desire is to follow the Lord in the world we live in and balance family, home, and work with Christ at the center of it all, then get to reading this book asap. Candace explores everything a wife and mother might go through on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. She reminds us that she too is a wife and a mom of three children. It’s a refreshing book to read because the author is down to earth and truly wants to get to know her Lord better. She states that as she learns more about Christ and how we should live as Christians, she works to follow that Christ-like pattern.

Balancing it All is Bure’s second book, and I must say it is as good, if not better than her first book– Reshaping it AllI’d also like to say that I am not a mommy, but I am a wife and a teacher (which is kind of like being a mom), and I think this book can and should be read by all wives, mothers, and those who hope to someday take on those roles. You will see the other side of all glitz and glam of hollywood and see what a true role model looks like. With literature like this coming from someone with the platform like Candace Cameron Bure holds, I think maybe, just maybe we can make a difference in the lives of girls God puts in our paths. So, are you balanced? How do you balance it all?