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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

in front of God and everybody review

From the publisher:
If God wanted April Grace to be kind to her neighbors, He should have made them nicer!

Growing up in the country is never easy, but it sure is funny—especially if you happen to have a sister obsessed with being glamorous, a grandma just discovering make-up, hippie friends who never shower, and brand new neighbors from the city who test everyone’s patience. From disastrous dye jobs to forced apologies and elderly date tagalongs, you’ll laugh ‘til you cry as you read the Confessions of April Grace!

Here are just a couple of April's thoughts: On her sister, Myra Sue: "How anyone can be that dumb and still be able to eat with a fork is beyond me." On senior citizen lovebirds: "What if they started smooching right at the table in front of God and everybody?"

In spite of all the loony characters in her life, April Grace is able to learn from her parents as they share the love of God—to even the craziest of characters!

My Review:
First, this is definitely written for a preteen girl.  I had to often remind myself to read it from that perspective, otherwise the writing would aggravate me with it's simplistic characters.  To be honest, some of the characters just didn't seem to fit and I truly have no idea why they were included in the book.

The book begins with an event that happened when the main character, April Grace, was 8 or 9.  I assume it was the author's intent to use a bad experience in April's past to explain her feelings in the present, but to be honest I felt like it was not necessary.  April was born and raised in the Ozarks and had been teased about being a "hillbilly" by some rich folks.  As a result she seems to instantly dislike the St. James' who were moving in to the farm down the road because they appeared to be wealthy.

The St. James' aren't rich, however, and in a peculiar twist they end up living with April's family until they can get their place fixed up.  Through this April learns a valuable lesson best explained in April's granny's own words:

"honey, you just got to quit finding fault with everyone...There ain't never been but one perfect person in the world, and they killed Him.  If you keep looking at the things you don't like about folks, you won't every have any friends.  Or any fun, neither.  Folks don't act they way they do just to annoy you.  They act the way they do 'cause they're people."

If you are looking at this as a book for your preteen, be aware that while there is a really good message in this book, there is an implication of drug use by the crazy hippie neighbors, and April's sister ends up becoming anorexic (although this is discussed very little, it just sort of happens in the background).  This book can open doors for discussion with your preteen about how we view others, how our actions can influence the way others view us, anorexia (obviously), and many other topics.

Another point of interest is that this book is set in 1986, which is well before the target audience was even born.  Some of the references will be lost on young readers (breakdancing, the Cosby show, even blue eyeshadow!) but mom's reading along will fondly remember their own preteen years.  The author does do a good job though of demonstrating that childhood feelings are outside of time.  April may be living in the 80's but kids today are feeling the same things!

All in all, not a bad book from a parent's perspective.  My 11 year old is reading this now and I will update this review with her opinion as well when she finishes it.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review of it.

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