Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Guardians: Evolution Exposed

Dawna Lee's The Guardians: Evolution Exposed is, oddly enough, one of my favorite books of 2012.  Despite some editing issues and a misleading title, this book has lots to recommend it.

In Evolution Exposed, we follow Kaleb and Dawson, two goodhearted, but slightly adolescent guardian angels as they watch over Sawyer, their assigned protege. Using webcams, text messaging, and computer monitoring, Dawson and Kaleb keep in touch with God and work together to guide Sawyer through the first days of middle school. Raised in a Christian home, Sawyer is struggling with openly living out his Christianity and exposing himself to atheist teachers and worldly peers.  Dawson and Kaleb have their work cut out for them. When a new boy, Preston, transfers into Sawyer's biology class where students have been assigned to work in groups to present evidence of evolution, the guardian angels are excited. They hope Preston will help Sawyer become a stronger Christian. However, their hopes backfire when Preston's outspoken faith makes Sawyer feel inferior. Sawyer doesn't want to risk his grade or reputation by approaching evolutionary theory from a Christian perspective, and chooses to stay in a group with the "cool" kids. 

Kaleb and Dawson call, email and text God regularly, as they work behind the scenes to guide Sawyer to the right paths.  It helps that Sawyer's parents pray for him often, and his church has a great youth group and a godly pastor.

If you are looking for a treatise on Christian responses to evolutionary theory, you won't find it here.  Rather, Lee brings up some interesting questions that may inspire readers to do more research and exploration.  What you will find, though, is an insightful look at the lives of middle school students who are being looked after by guardian angels, and more importantly, God.

If you, like me, are nervous about sending a child to middle school, or you have a child who is unsure what to expect, this is a comforting, reassuring book.

What I Like:  Although the book starts out with a fairly negative view of middle school, I was very pleased by the glimpses of the science teacher's guardian angel.  Even though the science teacher begins the year adamantly opposed to considering Creation, he clearly cares about his students.  Preston's sincerity reminds the teacher of himself as a young boy. When the guardian angels get frustrated with the teacher, God reminds them He cares about all His creation.  Plot Spoiler Ahead: By the next school year, the teacher's heart softens enough to allow students to turn in projects supporting either Evolution or Creation, as long as they are based on scientific research.

I love the way the angels talk to each other and God.  They seem almost irreverent at times, but they are constantly watching out for Sawyer and Preston and checking with God about the best course of action.  The fact they actively listen to parents' prayers is comforting to any parent who is absent from their child for any length of time.

I also liked seeing Sawyer's very human struggles with wanting to have fun and fit in, but also wanting to please his parents and youth pastor.  Plot Spoiler Ahead:  Sawyer eventually decides to support Preston's biology project, and the two boys invite other classmates to church.

What I Dislike:  There were some awkward editing spots.  Sometimes, the dialogue sounded stilted and it wasn't always clear who was speaking.

I also was dismayed at the negative portrayal of middle school in the first couple of chapters, but was pleased the book presented a more positive view by the end. 

Overall Rating: Good considering editing issues, but Very Good in terms of content

Age Appeal:  Grades 5-8

Publisher Info: Lighthouse Christian Publishing, 2012 ; ISBN: 9781477420652; Paperback, 57 pages, $9.95

Buy it at for $9.95.

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