The Real Life series by Nancy Rue is four books written for teens. The books are about four completely different teen girls who each find Christ during a difficult time in their lives. The girls never meet in the books and the only thing they have in common is a book that each found when they needed guidance the most. Or the book found them. The books are Motorcycles, Sushi and One Strange Book,
Boyfriends, Burritos & an Ocean of Trouble, Tournaments, Cocoa and One Wrong Move, and Limos, Lattes and My Life on the Fringe.
I won the last book in the series from GoodReads and got two others from the library because I hate to read a series and not know what’s going on. Turns out each book stands alone, but reading three of them gave me an overview I wouldn’t have had if I had only read one of the books.
What I liked: The books address subjects that teen girls can really relate to: divorce, parents, boys, friends (and faux friends), fitting in, prom.
There is a strong pro-God message in the books. Jesus and scriptures are explained in a way that make it easy to understand.
What I didn’t like: The mysterious book (Real Life or RL) doesn’t claim to be the Bible. In fact, when each girl’s “turn” is over, the book tells her that she can find all she needs in the Bible, and it’s time for someone else who need RL to find it… Which is what bothers me about these books. I read fantasy and horror, so I’m not one of those anti-Harry Potter people (Although I haven’t read any HP; I just haven’t gotten around to it.), but the concept of the RL made me uncomfortable. The whole concept is that RL turns up when someone needs it. When they’re done, they leave it somewhere and it mysteriously ends up somewhere else so the next person who needs it will find it. Then the writing on the pages tailors itself to whatever message the reader needs and answers the readers questions, basically having a conversation with the reader.
The author compares this to the Bible speaking to each of us according to what we need at the time. I couldn’t disagree more. If you’re a believer, you’ve had at least one experience of picking up the Bible and opening it up to a passage that answered whatever question you had right then or offered comfort or whatever you needed at that moment. But the text of RL actually changed to fit the reader. At times, the girl could only turn to certain pages because that was the lesson RL thought she needed at that moment. In a “woo-woo” book, this kind of thing wouldn’t have bothered me, but these are not “woo-woo” books. They’re Christian books. No, that’s not even what bothers me. I’ve read Christian fantasy books. But they weren’t focused on the Bible, especially not on some version of the Bible that moves itself around and rewrites itself.
On one hand, I believe God is strong enough to take anything we throw at him, and I also believe that while the Bible is the Word of God, he can and does use other means to reach people. The message of God’s love and grace is front and center in these books and I certainly hope they lead people to search more and accept God into their lives. But I can’t really say I recommend these books because something in the premise just seems “off” to me.