Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Grand Canyon Adventure

In A Grand Canyon Adventure, written by Jennifer Slattery, Jenna Henley and her mom and dad take a trip to the Grand Canyon. They are headed to Arizona because Jenna’s dad has been called there on business. He works for the railroad and he may soon be out of work. The trip out west is an opportunity for him to meet the owner of another railroad who might offer him a job.

Jenna wants to take her best friend, Bonnie, on the trip, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the family takes Sarah Rotham instead. Jenna and Sarah aren’t friends; they don’t even like each other. Jenna thinks Sarah is stuck up and Sarah thinks Jenna and her family are religious kooks. Jenna’s family sees the trip out west with Sarah as an opportunity for them to show Sarah how God’s love fills their hearts and guides their lives. Jenna sees the trip out west with Sarah as a burden that must be endured.

As you would expect, there are several conflicts between Sarah and Jenna and between Sarah and Jenna’s parents. Jenna has to learn to control her tongue and ask for God’s guidance in her dealings with Sarah.

The story is also an adventure story with lots of neat facts about the Grand Canyon and the state of Arizona. The author also uses the story to teach us about the Bible’s position on creation versus the scientists’ theory of evolution.

What I Like: I like adventure stories, particularly ones that take you to real places. You can learn a lot about things this way. The author has done her homework when it comes to research. She provides a bibliography at the end of the book listing all the books that were referenced throughout the text.

What I Dislike: The story is inconsistent in several places. When we are introduced to Sarah in the story, she comes across as a mouthy, snobby person who is very difficult to get along with. She and Jenna are faced with the realization that they have to spend the next 10 days together, much of the time crammed side-by-side in a car. You would expect lots of sparks to fly between the two, but there isn’t much of that. Rather, Sarah is rather docile most of the time. Of course, there are conflicts, but they are somewhat mild in comparison to what you might expect.

And, there were two scenes in the story that were a bit off. One was a scene involving an attack by wild dogs and another was an episode with a rattlesnake. The scene with the dogs was rather unrealistic, in my opinion (at least the way it was presented). And, Jenna’s mother barely even reacted when she finds out Jenna nearly got bitten by a rattlesnake. I would have expected a bit more emotion from the mother during that scene.

Also, the author takes pains to mention the family is taking along their two dogs. They are definitely prominent characters up until the end of chapter six. Then, they seem to disappear from the story until chapter ten. That seemed a bit odd; it was like the author forgot that the dogs were even part of the story until she needed them to create a scene.

Other things that bothered me were this family seems to consume an awful lot of junk food, particularly ice cream and frozen treats. There’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily, but there just seemed to be an awful lot of conversations about going to get frozen treats of some kind. Couldn’t they get something else to eat, find something else to do?

And, there were a few minor typos; nothing major, just thought I’d mention them.

Overall Rating: I give it an okay rating, because even though I thought the writing was weak, there are still some good lessons to be learned from the story.

Age Appeal: Young adult.

Publisher Info: Myth Slayers Ministries, 2009; ISBN: 9780578018911; Paperback, $8.75.

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