Thursday, March 25, 2010

Crazy In Love

Crazy In Love, written by Dandi Daley Mackall, is a fabulous read for teen girls and parents of teen girls. This novel is about a seventeen-year-old girl’s first real boyfriend and her decision to not have sex with him. If you are a very conservative parent and you’re uncomfortable with this subject matter, you might want to read it first. The author is typically a Christian writer, but has crossed into mainstream teen fiction with Crazy In Love.

Mary Jane Ettermeyer thinks of herself in two ways: Plain Jane when she wants to do the right thing, and M.J. when she wants to make selfish, carefree choices. Mary Jane somehow manages a good compromise.

Mary Jane and her two best friends, Red and Alicia, made a pledge of abstinence during freshman year, becoming charter members of AIA (Abstinence In Action.) So far, Mary Jane’s pledge hasn’t been challenged. Then, she and gorgeous Jackson House make a four-minute trip to replenish pop at a group study date. Jackson dates the most popular and beautiful girl at Attila High, Star Simons, and suddenly the girls in Mary Jane’s social group take sides. When jealous Star spreads accusing rumors, boys begin calling Mary Jane in droves hoping for a hot date. As Mary Jane puts it, “How could seventeen years of my reputation get tossed out for a mythical missing four minutes?”

Ironically, Star’s controlling actions push Mary Jane and Jackson together. Mary Jane is strong-minded and lets Jackson know that she won’t date him on the side; he better have feelings for her and he must break up with Star. He’s a decent guy and really cares for Mary Jane, so they begin dating. He doesn’t pressure her to get into a physical relationship at first. Star’s friends warn her that if she doesn’t give Jackson what he wants, he’ll run back to Star, who will be waiting with open arms.

Jackson eventually plans a date night at his house where there will be no parents home, and Mary Jane is torn, although she does make a shopping trip to Victoria’s Secret. She could use advice from Red and Alicia, but they’ve gone off to college and are both busy with new boyfriends. When she sees them during Thanksgiving break, Alicia has broken her AIA vow and is heartbroken. Red is keeping her pledge, and when she discusses this with Mary Jane, she says, “You know how much (my) boy believes in God.” Red explains that God created sex and knows the situation where we’ll get the most out of it. She also tells Mary Jane that aside from the risks of STDs and pregnancy, sex is emotionally intense and changes a relationship.

When Jackson picks Mary Jane up for the date, she honestly explains her feelings. He’s a little angry at first. She stays strong and says, “What- so sex is a thank you? I owe it to you because you’ve been good to me?” She explains how much she wants to have sex with him, but nurturing the relationship is more important to her. She wants to consider her future. As she talks, she can see Jackson struggling with being disappointed, being relieved, and finally understanding the way she feels. They don’t break up and Mary Jane hopes he’ll still want to date her, but if he doesn’t, she knows she’ll be fine.

The sexuality in the book consists of kissing and one scene where Jackson rolls on top of Mary Jane.

The Christian elements of this book are the church-going Ettermeyers and Mary Jane’s friend, Red. Mary Jane also has a mentally handicapped sister. Mary Jane is supportive of her, never ashamed of her, and involves her sister with her own friends.

What I Like: This is a great conversation-starting book. It’s a page-turner and the story is a realistic interpretation of how students treat each other in high school. Ms. Mackall really nails the drama and rivalry among girls, or as some call it, The Queen Bee Syndrome. Despite the devious things the girls do, the author doesn’t use a bit of foul language. Her writing is funny, upbeat, and hopeful. It’s fun to see the two sides of Mary Jane. Don’t we all waver on our choices like she does?

What I Don't Like: I’d like to see more overt Christianity displayed by Mary Jane’s parents, particularly when they have “the talk.” That being said, keeping this book more mainstream has the advantage of reaching a teen who normally does not read Christian fiction. Although the reader knows the Ettermeyer family is Christian, Mary Jane never specifically states faith as being the reason for her abstinence.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: Young Adult

Publisher Info: Speak 2007; ISBN: 978-0-14-241157-5 ; Paperback $7.50.

Buy it Now at Christianbook.com for $5.49.

OR Buy it at Amazon.com for $6.99.


Special Info: See reviews of other Dandi Daley Mackall books here.




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1 comment:

Shirley R. said...

When the girl mentions "how can seventeen years of my reputation be ruined in four minutes?" should be a red flag to young women. Parents should point out at this part of the story two things, first the Bible says "avoid the appearance of evil," for a good reason. Secondly the Bible reminds us multiple times to "flee from temptation," and "not to let the devil get his foot in the door."

Those are the thoughts that we should teach are sons and daughters to remember when faced with decisions regarding sex.

Sounds like another great book, although I agree with you that parents might want to read it first in case their daughter has questions...