Monday, September 20, 2010

A Girl Named Mister

A Girl Named Mister is brand new from award-winning author Nikki Grimes. Formatted like a poetic diary, this book follows two Marys in very different times, but with one very similar situation.

Mary Rudine, nicknamed Mister, is a sophomore in high school hoping to earn a volleyball scholarship to college. She's active in her church choir and youth group; she can't remember a time without church! Then Trey comes into the picture. His smooth words and long lashes soon make her question what she knows is right. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, she inches toward one big mistake that leaves her with lasting consequences.

It is about that time that her mother gives her a book of poetry. Feeling abandoned and alone, Mister gets lost in the story of another Mary.

This Mary has done everything according to Jewish law and eagerly awaits her coming wedding to Joseph, but an angel's visit leaves her confused and struggling with the consequences of the angel's prophecy. She, a virgin, will give birth?

Together both Marys discover the depth of God's love while facing the mysteries of His plans.

What I Like: Because it is written in first person, this book feels very intimate, like as a reader you've jumped into Mister's skin. The author did a tremendous job of character development, which is crucial when dealing with a hot topic like teen pregnancy. Raw and realistic, the book shows how easily people can be drawn away from their convictions. Even Christians can slip into dangerous patterns that lead to sin and enormous consequences that upset her entire world. Even without the pregnancy, Mister's choices alienated her from her friends, her church and her family. The book shows the true struggle that comes with teen pregnancy, the difficulty in making life-altering decisions at such a young age.

I really like the parallel between Mary (Jesus' mother) and Mister. The link there was quite beautiful. A great emphasis is on the character of God and the abundance of His love and grace.

I've never before read a novel written entirely in poetry. At first, I didn't think I would like it; I was sure the format would drive me crazy. But it didn't! Once I got started, I couldn't put it down.

What I Dislike:
There are two instances of cursing. While I agree these words add grit and authenticity to the characters, I would have preferred their absence. Also, some parts of the text are extremely sensual in nature. As an adult, I didn't have a problem with them, but I did question at what age I would allow my daughter to read this. Portions may be too explicit for immature readers.

Overall Rating:
Very Good.

Age Appeal:
Teen, though parents should evaluate age-appropriateness on an individual basis.

Publisher Info:
Zondervan, 2010; ISBN: 0310720788; Hardcover; 240 pages; $15.99

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This book is also available in eBook format for $8.99 at both and

Special Info: Parents should take specific note of this book's content and evaluate their child's readiness for it. Obviously, the book specifically tackles sex before marriage and teen pregnancy. Some of the text is sensual in nature, perhaps more than some parents will appreciate. The book also talks about adoption, abortion, stoning, and includes two instances of cursing.

See our reviews of other books by this author.

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