Monday, September 27, 2010

Book Review: That is SO Me

book cover

That is SO Me:
365 Days of Devotions
by Nancy Rue

Trade Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: ZonderKidz
Released: Sept. 2010

Source: Advanced Reading Copy provided by the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover, slightly modified:
Here is the devotional tween girls been waiting for: a place for everyday inspiration for everyday tween girls. On this 365-day journey through the Bible, discover topics that will have you saying “That is SO me!” over and over and over again. Featuring interactive quizzes, activities, prayers, and journaling prompts written by favorite Faithgirlz!™ author Nancy Rue, this meaningful devotional is just for girls and tackles the issues that you face each day.

That is SO Me is a year-long daily devotional for girls ages 9-12. It's written in a conversational, engaging tone and is good at giving examples of how the application parts would work out in modern, tween girl life.

There were 52 weeks with 8 entries per a week: one under the "Week #__" heading to introduce the week's theme and then one for each day of the week. The day entries included activities (quiz; ask someone; think about; talk with God; listen to God; do what you've learned; and share it). The devotional was divided into four parts of 13 weeks each. Part One was about learning more about God. Part Two was about how God sees us. Part Three was about how God transforms people's lives (by following the stories of 13 people in the Bible). Part Four was about how God wants you to act.

Overall, the devotionals taught good lessons and engaged the reader in a way that they would probably try to do the activities suggested and apply the lesson rather than just read it.

However, I did have some concerns. The first eight weeks were a summary of the events in Genesis. This was a good idea, but sometimes she skipped events or incorrectly summarized a passage. Sometimes it was obvious she was trying to make the passage fit her week's theme, but other times I couldn't see why she changed or added to what Scripture said. After those weeks, she used verses from throughout the Bible that actually fit the theme...but the problem of slightly inaccurate summaries persisted, though it was less frequent. Also, I sometimes didn't agree with how she explained the meaning of a verse.

For example, on Week 2: Tuesday, she interpreted God's curse on the serpent in Genesis 3:15 as "he made it so women and their kids would always hate snakes. That accounts for the creepy feeling you get when you even see a python on TV. God knew the source of the evil, and he took away some of its power. It's still there, and it will sneak up on you and 'strike [your] heel" But you can also 'crush [its] head" (verse 15). God made it so that you can stamp it out whenever it tries to get to you." But that verse refers to Satan and the Messiah, not everyone.

Another example is from Week 49: Sunday when she modernized the parable about forgiveness found in Matthew 18:22-35. She has a teacher give a girl an extra day to pay her large debt but the teacher revokes the extension when she sees the girl demand that her friend pay back a small debt. I can see a girl reading it and thinking, "But Late Girl was just trying to raise the money to pay the teacher the next day! How unfair!" To be more accurate to the parable, Late Girl shouldn't have had to pay her way anymore so that she had no pressing reason to demand her friend pay up.

Despite my concerns, I'd suggest this devotional to tween girls that normally wouldn't do devotionals.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Week 49: Sunday

"If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." Matthew 6:14

If you dare to walk past her, she curls her lip and sniffs the air like she's smelling rotten eggs. Yet you're supposed to forgive her? Why?

Jesus knew we'd need to understand the reason for forgiving people who treat us like pond scum. He explained that if we don't forgive other people, no matter what they do, God won't forgive us no matter what we do. He used a story (Matthew 18:22-35) which, in modern terms, goes something like this:

A girl hasn't turned in her money--thirty dollars--for the class field trip. It's the last day and she's forgotten again. The teacher says she's sorry, but Late Girl can't go. Late Girl cries and begs and the teacher gives her one more day. Happy again, Late Girl dashes out of class that afternoon and runs into a friend.

"Hey," she says to Friend. "You owe me a dollar for that Coke I bought you last week."

When Friend asks for more time to get the money, Late Girl says, "No way. Give it to me now, or we're not friends any more."

The teacher overhears that conversation and tells Late Girl she can forget about going on the field trip. If she can't forgive Friend a debt of one measly dollar, she doesn't deserve an extra day to get her thirty bucks in. End of discussion.

That's how it works with God too.

Do That Little Thing: QUIZ
This could be tough (but remember, Jesus doesn't do easy). Make a list of people you haven't quite forgiven for doing hurtful things to you or somebody you love. Think about grudges you're holding, people you refuse to speak to ever again, memories that make you mad all over again, just thinking about them. Don't worry if your list is longer than your arm. By the end of the week, it may be erased completely.

Read some more of the devotionals.

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