1. Terrific essay. Thank you.

  2. Kirsty says:

    I think the books of Patricia St John are good. Some are a bit dated, as she started writing around the 50s. But they don’t follow the standard become-a-christian-and-everything-is-solved-at-the-end model.

    I’m thinking particularly of ‘Rainbow garden’, where the main character becomes a Christian part way through, and spends the rest of the book learning the implications of that, including some very hard decisions.

    • Seconded. I loved Patricia St. John’s books as a kid — not sure how they’d hold up to adult reading, but I read many of them multiple times.

      Also, I loved this essay the first time around when Jeri posted it on her blog years ago, so I’m glad to see it make a reappearance here.

  3. Aw, I thought you actually got Jerri in here for a guest post and I was going to go totally fangirl. I’d love to know how they altered Derwood Inc: I only read to pieces and can’t wait to read it to my kids.

    Hear hear to everything in the article. Also, she gets props for writing for Doctor Who. 🙂

  4. One specific point in my first reaction: Naomi was married to a Jew, her children married Moabites (who may or may not have converted prior to their marriages, the Bible doesn’t say, and who in any case were actual distantly related to the Isrealites through Lot, even if these were unbelievers).

    Second more elongated point: most of the Christian books I read in middle school did not depict perfect children. They were not living on the street or in a gang, true, but they certainly were not depicted as having it all together. Rather than continue to discuss in the abstract, I thought I’d give some examples.

    In the Mandie books, the main character is orphaned (does that count as not having two parents?) and is forced to undergo many upheavals: a grandmother she’d never known, an inheritance, discovering a relationship with Native American characters, and many consequences due to her impulsive and inquisitive nature. She means well, but sometimes her efforts to help produce real consequences she has to face. The affects of these consequences might be felt three books after the event. Looking back, she’s a bit of a mini, Southern “Emma.”

    In the Salem Years of Nancy Rue’s Christian Inheritance Series, two children are depicted who grow up during the Puritan era of Salem, MA. This book certainly doesn’t depict all Christians as perfect, or even agreeing with each other. The children are forced to deal with distant parents, division with their church, and acceptance of other belief systems. Children are bullied and pushed around with often no recourse from outside help, and even their best efforts sometimes land them punishments, even bring them before civic authorities. Many plots in this book series explore how do deal with fear and learning to live in peace with others, even those we don’t agree with or like.

    Finally, one book series I recall specifically dealt with your topic: Hilda Stahl’s Wren House mystery series. The protagonist is the daughter of a lawyer and PI and dreams of being a detective. Understandably, she often gets in trouble for going too far in her juvenile investigations (at times putting her life and others’ in jeopardy, which unlike in some series is never depicted as wise but as the risky behavior it truly is, complete with actual consequences to those she cares about). An ongoing side plot is her antagonism with a girl who came in from public school to Wren’s Christian school. Each book chips away at the image of this “bad” girl until Wren is forced to confront her own prejudice in the last book, realizing she’s just as much at fault in her spats as the girl herself, and that she’s guilty moreover of not showing a true Christian witness. I remember liking this plot because I’d been resentful of Wren’s attitude toward the girl (I went to public school too!) It made enough of an impact I remember the story to this day, though I read it years and years ago.

    Some of these books are better written than others, but all of them held in common people valued serving God through worship, service, and family. There are many other examples I can think of that I read. I am not trying to say your points are unreasonable or not occurring, only that I don’t really think that’s the whole market.

    At least, such as not been my experience. Perhaps you have other examples to share that would provide a better illustration of this mindset?

  5. Good article. Well said.

  6. Galadriel says:

    I’d also like to know what changes were made to Derwood, Inc. I read it when I was homeschooled and thought it was interesting.

What do you think?