Monday, November 29, 2010

A Girl Named Mister, by Nikki Grimes

A Girl Named MisterMary Rudine has acquired the nickname Mister because of her initials.  Raised by her mama in New York, Mister has been taught to love and obey God, and to keep herself pure.  But then she meets Trey, and one mistaken act changes her life forever.  Faced with pregnancy at the age of 15, Mister finds comfort in a book about Mary, mother of Jesus, and we get to follow both girls on their journey to motherhood.

I will start by saying I absolutely loved this book.  A word of warning, yes, it is written in verse form, and no, contrary to other reviews out there, it is not all angsty teenage poetic drivel.  Yes, it sounds like a teenage girl, because it is written partially in her narrative voice. That is intentional, to make it relatable for teen readers, particularly urban teens, like Mister.  And while Mister's journey is shown as parallel to Mary's, I see no evidence where the book tries to say Mister is like Mary, or any other blasphemy.  Mary represents motherhood to all Christian women, it makes sense that even a teen mother would find comfort in Mary, and be able to relate to her.

In reality, teens face issues of sex, and teen pregnancy.  Even Christian teens.  I think this book is an excellent example of how teens can make mistakes, and sin, and still find comfort in God's loving grace.  The book does not preach abstinence, it simply shows the reality of the potential consequences of sex, and the impact on a young life.

As for the literary style, poetic novels are not for everyone, true, but fans of authors like Ellen Hopkins will enjoy this book.  And think about it, much of Scripture is written in poem form.  Many literary classics use poetic forms.  So the fact that this is poetry is not enough to write it off.  Through the verses, we really learn who Mister is, what she struggles with, and how she finds comfort from the mother of our Lord.

Personally, I think this is an excellent young adult book, and while it does deal with sex, it does so in a realistic manner, not quite as severe as a cautionary tale, but there are real lessons to be learned through this book.  Lessons teens could use.  Especially Christian teens.  I think with proper parental guidance and discussion, this would be appropriate for teens 13 and up.  It would make for an excellent small group/teen book club selection.