Diary of a Teenage Girl: Becoming Me by Melody Carlson

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 Summary
Sixteen-year-old Caitlin O’Connor is pretty sure that her life is too boring to write about in a journal. But at the start of a new year, Caitlin begins to chronicle her day-to-day life as she encounters the drama of peer pressure, popularity, and dating. Her life becomes more interesting than she bargained for when she uncovers a dark secret about her dad and when she gets caught between the attention of more than one popular high school boy. As she abandons old friendships, makes new ones, and asks where God is in her life, Caitlin struggles to find out who she is and who she wants to become.

Pros
Written through diary entries, Caitlin’s voice is realistic, candid, and relevant to young adult audiences. She doesn’t hold back how she feels about the cute boy she know she shouldn’t like, or how she isn’t sure how she feels about God anymore. In her diary, Caitlin is completely open about her experiences, even when she is making excuses for her actions.

Caitlin’s story explores various issues that teens face today, such as teen drinking, peer pressure, teen sex, and affairs. Many young adults will be able to relate to different aspects of Caitlin’s story and appreciate her honest voice throughout the novel.

Cons
While Caitlin’s voice is realistic and honest, I didn’t personally like Caitlin. Perhaps this is because I am a bit more removed from this age, but I found her to be rather whiny, self-centered, and not terribly interesting. That’s just me. I’m sure that other readers, be they adult or young adult, will find Caitlin’s brash journal entries engaging and will like her for that reason.

Conclusion
While this book didn’t tickle my fancy, there is certainly merit in the way the content connect with a young adult audience. This is a great read for young adults struggling through the dramatic high school years, or those trying to make sense of what they believe about God.

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“Purple Moon” by Tessa Emily Hall

SSummary

Selena doesn’t believe in fairy tales anymore. With her dad out of the picture and her mom checking into rehab, Selena is sent to stay with her aunt, uncle, and bratty cousin, Whitney, for the summer on Lake Lure. Whitney wants nothing to do with Selena, and Selena befriends neighbor boy, Austin, who she knew as a kid. Austin invites Selena to join him for a Christian youth camp where Selena encounters the same God her dad used to preach about years ago when life was good in Kentucky. Selena feels welcomed by Austin’s group of Christian friends, but their call to faith makes her feel conflicted with her past and the scars she is still trying to hide, including her past with smoking and drinking. Selena feels attracted to Austin’s faith and joy, but when Whitney’s boyfriend starts paying attention to her, Selena feels even more confused about who she truly is and who she will become.

The Pros

Purple Moon is a well-written novel with a great message and a powerful protagonist. Selena struggles with insecurity and plenty of emotional baggage from her broken family, unhealthy relationships, and a history of smoking and drinking. Her story is one young adult readers will admire and relate with—the search for self and purpose in the midst of peer pressure. Through Selena’s relationships with her mom, Austin, Christian friends, and non-Christian friends, Hall provides realistic circumstances through which Selena must make decisions and ultimately decide who she wants to be and what she will live for.

Selena encounters many issues that teenagers today must deal with, including teen drinking, premarital sex, partying, and abusive relationships. Rather than shying away from these issues, Hall faces them head-on through Selena’s experiences, and ultimately provides readers with a positive example for dealing with these issues.

The Cons

Many of Selena’s issues stem from her relationship with her cousin, Whitney. Whitney is a spoiled teen who has been given everything she wants and is aggravated by the fact that Selena is coming to stay with them for the summer. While I got the impression that Whitney had always been bratty, her hatred of Selena seemed a bit unfounded. Whitney doesn’t hide the fact that she wants nothing to do with Selena, though they used to play together as kids. As a reader, I wanted a better understanding of Whitney and why she was so angry with Selena—perhaps for insecurities of her own—and what created the huge rift in their relationship.

Conclusion

Purple Moon is a great, inspiring read for young adults with a relatable protagonist and great examples of Christian living. Read more about author Tessa Emily Hall on her website, and get a copy of the book on Amazon!

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