This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS DECKED OUT from Thomas Nelson (October 2, 2007) by Neta Jackson
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Neta Jackson’s award-winning Yada books have sold more than 350,000 copies and are spawning prayer groups across the country. She and her husband, Dave, are also an award-winning husband/wife writing team, best known for the Trailblazer Books–a 40-volume series of historical fiction –and Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes (vols 1-4).
Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church. They are now members of the Chicago Tabernacle, a multi-racial daughter congregation of the Brooklyn Tabernacle.
Jodi Baxter is all excited: her kids are coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then all of the Yadas are getting decked out for a big New Year’s party.
But God’s idea of “decked out” might just change the nature of her party plans: A perplexing encounter with a former student, a crime that literally knocks her off her feet, and a drug addict who leaves her three-month-old in the arms of Jodi’s future daughter-in-law.
This Christmas, the Yada Yadas are learning no one can out celebrate God.
THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS DECKED OUT is the seventh and last installment. Sometimes dubbed “chick-lit” for their bright covers and catchy titles, I’m told, the series provided far more depth than typical of that genre, and I can concur on this book, at least.
However, I had a feeling going in I was going to be lost, and I wasn’t far off. The prewritten “review”, which landed mostly on my cutting room floor, reports this “concludes the series with some twists and turns that will amaze and encourage you.” I definitely found the whole thread with orphaned baby moving to say the least–anyone who’s ever wanted to adopt will be just bawling–but I don’t think I got to fully appreciate any twists and turns.
The story made sense for the most part, but I still had a nagging sense of “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Some authors can just pull the other material in as back story with each new installment and have the book stand alone This one, the back story references, for me, only served to remind me I’ve come into this 6/7ths of the way through.
This does, however, give me a taste of why this has been a smash hit. Sure, her publisher allowed far more telling than they would permit from a less seasoned author, and the editor missed a dangling answer that forced the reader (i.e. me) to turn a page back to figure out what the question was. But the short novel is filled, to the point of being overloaded if possible, with true-to-life, little details author often overlook, rich voices and characters, authentic portrayals of the non-WASPs that took me back to my inner-city school days, and the author made that trip as pleasant as anyone possibly could.
I really appreciated that she used the description “White woman” as often, if not more, than she did “black woman.” Describing minorities in fiction primarily by the color of their skin bugs me. At times, the story was a tad too “race” conscious for my tastes, but overall, she handled this aspect well.
The plot had quite a few bunny trails, or at least they appeared that way to me. Not necessarily a bad thing, as a writer I like my bunny trails, too. But it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and I suspect to some *cough male* readers it might look like a collection of rabbit trails with no actual central plot. Then again, that might be how it got the chick-lit label.
Or maybe this whole book’s point was to tie up the series’ loose ends? If a satisfactory end to the series for those who’ve been following it was Neta’s goal, she certaintly succeeded.
For the rest of us, the appendix filled with recipes and tips and suggestions for celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc alone make the book worth taking a look at.