BOOK REVIEW: Awesome Inspirational Fiction!

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If I were a woman of few words, which I am quite clearly not, I would sum up author Melody Carlson in a single sentence: she is one God-loving, amazingly gifted author with multiple series of books for teens that are totally outstanding, inspiring, entertaining, funny, moving, and life-transforming all at once. Okay, so I couldn’t even keep my one-sentence summary to a few words. Then again, in the case of reviewing a bunch of her books I’ve read and am still reading, why would I be sparing with my accolades? Alright, for any of you who know me well, I don’t give Melody Carlson the glory for her books. And I am quite sure neither would she. God most assuredly gets the glory for the writing – and heart – gift He has given her, but surely she deserves a big THANK YOU for her love, faithfulness, obedience, diligence, and perseverance in using the gift God has so clearly given her to glorify His name.

one of Melody Carlson’s numerous Christian teen diary books

Now, in case you’re wondering, why is a 40-something woman voluntarily reading books for teens, voluntarily choosing to review a bunch of them all in a single review, and voluntarily sharing from my heart exactly how blessed I am to have stumbled across her books? The rest of this review should be more than sufficient in answering these questions. But I hope my review goes a step further. I hope it helps to draw more readers to her work – and, through her work, to a more intimate, precious, life-transforming walk with the Lord. So, for anyone curious to learn more about this treasure trove of marvelous books I have stumbled upon, moving right along…

While Melody Carlson has written an extraordinary number of books, my favorites are her multiple series of books that are fictional diaries of Christian teen girls. Each series, which includes multiple sequential titles, is named after the keeper of the diaries. The series include: Maya Stark, Caitlin O’Connor, Chloe Miller, and Kim Peterson. Each fictional teen girl has written multiple diaries. So the reader gets an up-close-and-personal view into the hearts and lives of each of the girls. The books are obviously written in the first person as diaries are written, and they are written with the utter transparency and raw, revealing candidness of people who keep diaries. Yet, at the same time, the books read as stories. How creative, unique, and even fascinating it is to learn about characters in this interesting style of writing.

One of Melody Carlson’s numerous Christian teen diary books 

Speaking of characters, one totally appealing benefit of this style of writing is that reading these books makes the reader feel like a personal friend of the characters. And, because of the diary style of writing, the characters actually don’t really seem like characters. They seem like real people. After all, they’re willing to divulge just about everything about their lives in their diaries.

As I hurry through book after book in all of these series, and am truly humbled as a fellow writer as well as avid reader by how truly gifted the author really is, I am astounded at how skilled she is in doing something I am not sure I have ever truly witnessed in all the probably thousands of books I have read in my life. All the different series of diary books cross paths with one another. For example, the teen girl who writes diaries in one book appears in another girl’s diaries in another series. But these characters don’t just appear in other series of books. The author stays on top of every single detail of where each girl is in her life, what she is doing, whom she is friends with, what her challenges are, where she is in her walk with the Lord or lack thereof, where she is facing challenges in her faith, and a zillion other things.

How, I wonder, does the author keep up with all this? How does she keep track of every single detail, not to mention how each girl fits in with another girl’s life? She is gifted. Plain and simple. But I have to say, I am used to gifted writers sometimes being really fancy and frilly with their writing. Melody Carlson’s writing, however, is totally fun, hip, simple, straightforward, genuine, and engaging.

Now, I have saved the very best for last. What I absolutely love most about all these wonderful books is that Melody Carlson does a superior job of blending a fun, down-to-earth, entertaining, engaging and very real style with completely inspiring. Each of her characters is somewhere in her journey of finding the Lord, getting to know the Lord, in hot pursuit of the Lord, questioning her faith in the Lord, being challenged to grow in her relationship with the Lord, sharing with others about the Lord, etc. What a remarkable way to use fiction to inspire people like me to take a look at my own journey with the Lord and to see where I need to grow.

Melody Carlson manages to inject into these books Truth from the Bible, encouragement for the downhearted, advice for Christian teens, hope for those who do not yet know the Lord, themes of forgiveness, comfort, and hope, how to be a true friend, how to hold onto the Lord in public school while faced with ridicule from other kids, how to face numerous life’s challenges, and so much more. Yet her books are never boring, never preachy, never judgmental or condemning. She brings up hot topics like getting pregnant out of wedlock, abortion, drug addiction, poverty, and a zillion other subjects all ultimately in the context of learning to live a godly life and all through the hearts and eyes of young women.

I have honestly not as of yet despite my constant reading found any books that are as both entertaining and inspiring at the same time. I never come away from one of her books with a feeling of heaviness that I have read yet another serious, hard-core Christian read. But I also have never come away from her books feeling as though I have just finished a light, fluffy, frivolous, book with no substance. God has truly gifted her in being able to use entertaining fiction to draw the reader into a relationship with Him, and to a deeper relationship with Him for those who already know the Lord.

So what exactly is 40-something me doing reading all these books for teens? Okay, so the truth is that I stumbled upon them in my desperation to find some Christian, clean fiction in a library that is not exactly chock full of it. And once I began, I couldn’t stop. Finding books that are pure and godly, that are fun and inspiring, well, it just isn’t easy. And, thankfully, Melody Carlson is so prolific in how much she has written that I have spent plenty of time reading her books.

Why did I decide to write this review?  When I find something I really love, it’s hard to keep my mouth shut about it. I love to share with others when I find a blessing from the Lord. And this is exactly what Melody Carlson’s multiple series of diary books for Christian teen girls has been for me. A true blessing from the Lord.

I have only read a few of Melody Carlson’s non-teen, non-diary books, so I do not feel qualified to review them, nor do I feel led to. If you are interested in checking out the numerous teen, diary books, or any of her other many books, please visit Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, other online resources, or see if your local library might have some of her books as mine does.

Below is a link to one of her many books. You can search under her name at any online major book retailer to check out her many books. Please note there is an order to the books within each book series that follows the life of the characters. And because the characters also show up in the other series, it’s best to figure out the order before you begin.

Get ready to be truly blessed!

CLICK HERE to see one of her books.

Please visit Walk by Faith Ministry at https://www.walkbyfaithministry.com.

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