I love youth fiction.
When I was a new mother, I needed to read books that were short, but written well.
Enter the youth fiction genre.
I recently had a friend ask me for some recommendations on some stories of faith for her fourteen year old daughter.
Here are my top picks.
In Front of God and Everybody: Confessions of April Grace is a hoot!
I love the spunk that this red-haired, no frills girl has throughout the ups and downs of her life in the Ozarks.
April Grace's life is flipped upside down when her grandma gets a boyfriend, new neighbours from California move into her life and her older sister gets a large dose of hormones.
Can April Grace's faith in Christ help her learn self-control, kindness and forgiveness?
Fun fact: this book is set in the '80's and the references to workout videos, big hair and fashion from that decade add to this fun read.
Confessions of April Grace Series:
In Front of God and Everybody
Cliques, Hicks, and Ugly Sticks
Chocolate Covered Baloney
Jenny B. Jones is my hands down, favourite, I- would-push-you-over-to-get-a-chance-to-meet-her, favourite, favourite,faovurite author.
No one writes comedy like my girl, Jenny B. (see how I make it sound like we are close friends. That's just in case she stumbles on this blog and sees my devotion. Spread the word, friends! I heart Jenny!)
This book is hilarious.
It's the first in a three part series. The story of Katie Parker, a never-been-to-church, trying to make sense of life foster child who suddenly finds herself living with a foster family who pastors a church.
Katie is trying to restart life, but reality keeps interrupting in embarrassing ways.
She thinks she is a temporary kid, but does God have different plans?
Fun Fact: I put this book down from laughing so hard. Twice. Belly laughing, friends. The character Mad Maxine is one of my all time favourite characters in youth fiction. She is worth reading all three books for.
I am just giggling thinking about her.
Katie Parker Production Series
In Between (Act 1)
On the Loose (Act 2)
The Big Picture (Act 3)
I love Sandra Byrd's Friends for a Season series.
She has several stand alone stories of two girls who meet and become friends. Sometimes they share the same faith, sometimes they don't. The characters learn how to honour God in their friendships and learn more about who God created them to be.
A lot of fun and filled with all sorts of neat tricks for girls--everything from fun snacks described in the stories to easy hair styles.
My two favourite stories in this series are:
Island Girl-a story about a girl who visits her grandparents every summer and has to decide if she is going to live with her father or her mother, once her father returns from active duty overseas. Great faith and prayer lessons in this book.
My other favourite book in this series is Chopsticks. Byrd does a great job bonding two girls over their shared faith in Christ, only a serious dilemma arises. They are both entered into the same worship song contest. And there can only be one winner. When both girls desperately need the money and are praying to God to win the contest, what will happen? This book is based on the scripture Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition....
Friends for a Season (Stand alone novels)
How can you be a Christian girl and not know of the Christy Miller series?!?!?!?!
Robin Jones Gunn wrote these stories in response to the youth group girls she was mentoring. They complained that there were no books around that dealt with girls finding faith and navigating the waters of friends, boys and growing up. Beautiful themes of purity, handling relatives who don't understand your faith and building friendships based on God's word.
I really love that these characters have an active prayer life, a committed role in church and encounter problems in a very real way.
Christy Miller Series
Christy Miller Vol.1
Christy Miller Vol. 2
Christy Miller Vol. 3
Christy Miller Vol. 4
Christy Miller's Diary
Christy and Todd: the College Years
*four books in each volume
I like the Sierra books even better than the Christy books. Mainly because Sierra and I are cut from the same cloth. Sierra is impulsive, blurts out thoughts before thinking them through but really wants to honour God. Can't say enough about this series. Sooooo good.
Robin Jones Gunn handles very well the pressures of being a teenager who is trying to be counter culture.
I really respect the parent/daughter relationships in this series. Very positive.
In the books towards the end of the series, Sierra is forced to look at friendships that she has had for a long time.
Her stand for purity and God go under attack and she learns how to pray for others, make amends when needed and let go when the time comes.
Sierra Jensen Series
Sierra Jensen Vol. 1
Sierra Jensen Vol. 2
Sierra Jensen Vol. 3
Sierra Jensen Vol. 4
*four books in each volume
And if there is any book series by Robin Gunn Jones that I like better than Christy and Sierra, it's Katie's series. I Loooove this series. I literally read all four books one summer day. My kids got hotdogs and all the juice they wanted as I sat in our back porch summer reading area devouring these great stories.
Katie's story picks up in college (She is Christy Miller's best friend and a good friend of Sierra's).
This story will be for a more mature reader, but I include it in here because it is part of the series that Robin Gunn Jones started long ago.
Katie is bold, fun and completely not a girly girl. She is independant and high strung and has a heart of gold.
I absolutely love how this character encounters Christ. There are many moments in this book series where Katie is challenged to trust Christ and does so beautifully. There are beautiful moments of healing from a broken relationship with her parents and Gunn Jones masterfully handles a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship in a very honouring way.
Spoiler: the character realizes that she and this guy are not really a good fit, but struggles with the fact that she really does love him. This is a dilemma that some girls have faced and I think that it is great book to read together with your daughter and talk about why it is important to really know yourself before going into a relationship.
Robin Gunn Jones has characters who don't kiss til their married, don't date til they feel led by God to pursue a relationship that's headed to marriage, girls who do date, girls who choose not to date, girls who are not allowed to date.
I like that she covers a whole lot of different scenarios for girls because there are many girls out there who are coming from all walks of life and various stages of commitment to Christ.
It is probably why her books are so popular.
Katie Weldon Series
On A Whim
Finally and Forever
My last pick is so fun. I am glad that my library had all four books, because I foolishly only got one out. The next day, I got the remaining three out and quickly read those.
Sandra Byrd has created a perfect character in Savvy Smith and the London Confidential series.
Savvy has just moved to London with her family. She longs to be a writer and joins the high school newspaper.
Savvy suddenly finds herself as the anonymous advice columnist. Using the book of Proverbs as her guide, she gives advice to the students in her school.
This 4 book series is fun and has Savvy dealing with moving to a new area, trying to fit in to a new school while realizing that her old friends are moving on without her. I like the parent/daughter relationship in this book. Very positive, as is the sibling relationship. Savvy's family tries to find a church that is right for them which is a great experience to read about.
The character is very likable and who doesn't love a girl discovering who she really is in London--complete with accents, fish and chips and all things British!
London Confidential Series:
Asking For Trouble
Through Thick and Thin
Don't Kiss Him Goodbye
Flirting with Disaster