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Melody Carlson’s Diary of a Teenage Girl Series: Maya Stark

The final Diary of a Teenage Girl series by Melody Carlson is about Kim Peterson’s cousin, Maya Stark. I personally found that the Maya Stark series is the most commonplace of the entire series. When compared to the Caitlin O’Connor series and the Kim Peterson series, this one comes up somewhat short. I wonder if Carlson wrote this series because she wanted to create an extension of the Kim Peterson character. I think that these three books would have been better if Maya was a independent character, instead of being tied to old plot-lines, as the teen girl idea can become repetitive. However, this final series is still a good read that I would recommend to most teen readers. The Maya Stark series deals with subjects such as parental drug addiction, loneliness, fear, changes, preferences, life challenges, independence, betrayal, surrender, and how God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. The first novel, aptly titled A Not so Simple Life, introduces the reader to the tumultuous life of a teen girl named Maya Stark. Maya Stark has grown up with a has-been Hollywood star for a mother, who also happens to be a drug addict; not to mention an absent father figure who is always touring and doing concerts. Because of her mother’s unreliability and unstable finances, and her father’s noncommittal role in her life, Maya has learned to make it on her own. Maya’s mother has neglected her schooling, so Maya has been home-schooling on her own. Maya experiences a major life change when her mother is arrested for drug possession, among other charges. She hides in her home for a time, then gives up and decides to go live with her cousin, Kim Peterson, and Kim’s dad, who is also Maya’s uncle. At first she finds it hard to adjust to the Peterson’s lives, as they have many different practices from her own. For one thing, they’re Christians, and for another thing, they do not seem to care about the environment, which is something that is important to Maya. Yet another area of conflict is that Maya is set on being a vegan, and the Peterson’s are the exact opposite of this lifestyle. She finds solace in exploring different career options, even dabbling in modeling for a time. However, she discovers that none of these activities fill the void inside, and begins to be more open to the faith of her relatives. In the remainder of the series, Maya becomes a Christian, makes new friends, comes to an understanding with her father, and strays farther away from her mother after she secretly empties their shared bank account. As relationships progress and life moves forward, will Maya remember what matters most in life? Will she cling to Jesus through all of life’s twists and turns? To answer these questions, read the books!;) This series may or may not be a good addition to the miniseries concept I have mentioned in previous posts. I wonder if the miniseries would even be affected if this series was edited out. I suppose that the writer could at least include this character in scenes from the other series. Nevertheless, we continue to wait for the day when filmmakers will recognize the potential found in select Christian novels.

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Francine Rivers: Marta’s Legacy Series Book 2

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Her Mother’s Hope is the second and final installment in Francine River’s Marta’s Legacy series. This novel covers the lives of four people, and does so in a tasteful way. Rivers binds four generations together by pointing our their mutual flaws and their common need for forgiveness. Her Mother’s Hope deals with subjects such as sin, flawed family systems, generational tendencies, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, granddaughters, purity, impurity, life choices, love, joy, hope, healing, and the ties that bind families together. The opening chapters of the book introduce the character to Hildemara’s daughter, Carolyn. Returning readers of the first novel will remember that Hildemara is Marta’s daughter. Carolyn is a lonely little girl who misses her mother. As Hildemara fights tuberculosis from behind a bedroom door, Carolyn wonders why her mother tells her to stay away. Carolyn’s grandmother Marta comes to the rescue by stepping in to care for Carolyn and her older brother Charlie. As Hildemara pushes her daughter away out of love, Carolyn begins to form a close bond with her grandmother. Even when Hildemara recovers, Carolyn still feels that her mother is indifferent to her existence. Eventually Carolyn stops seeking her mother’s affection, and with both parents working long days, this is not hard to do. Eventually her vulnerability leads her into the hands of a neighbor with less than pure intentions. As he draws her into his lair, she discovers that she does not want to play his games. However, it is too late, and the damage done will last a lifetime. As Carolyn grows up, she feels distant from her peers, and focuses instead on her studies. Her relationship with her mother does not improve, and Carolyn decides to take her perfect GPA to her grandmother’s favorite college. At first she is entirely committed to her studies, and lets nothing sway her resolve. Then….she gets a new roommate. Cher is the complete opposite of Carolyn; she embraces the hippie lifestyle with gusto. Soon Carolyn sees the attractiveness of a carefree lifestyle, and her grades begin to slip. Eventually she is drinking and doing drugs with no care as to the side effects. Much to her parents chagrin, she drops out of college and moves into a communal drug house. Cher’s eventual suicide is the turning point in Carolyn’s life. When Cher dies, Carolyn is in despair. She wanders the streets in search of meaning, and finds it one night on the beach. Following a hookup with a lonely veteran, she meets her Maker on the seashore and discovers what love really is. Carolyn returns home to her parents, who make sure that she leaves her hippie ways behind and gets a job. However, when Carolyn discovers she is pregnant, she is fired. Her parents pack her away to a family friend, where she delivers her daughter, May Flower Dawn. Carolyn reluctantly decides to let her mother care for Dawn during her long work days, and Dawn is raised by Hildemara while Carolyn works to become a realtor. By the time she reaches her goal, Dawn has grown to love her grandmother as a child loves her mother. Carolyn tries to regain her love, but finds that some bridges are very hard to build. Following Carolyn’s marriage to a childhood friend named Mitch, the novel shifts from Carolyn’s perspective to Dawn’s. Dawn is a spoiled girl who is looking for love in all the wrong places. Controlled by her grandmother’s selfish desires, she unintentionally reopens her mother’s old wounds. Will Carolyn and Dawn ever be reconciled? Will Hildemara see the part she has played in their rift? Most importantly, will all three run into the arms of the One who loves them most? To answer this question, read the book! I have considered the idea that this novel could make a two part film series, however, I always return to the fact that the content of both books combined would make a wonderful Christian epic film. Maybe someday someone will recognize the potential found in certain Christian novels….or maybe not…

Francine Rivers: Marta’s Legacy Series Book 1

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Her Mother’s Hope is the first book in the short, two-part series by Francine Rivers, which is titled Marta’s Legacy. The novel is set in early 1900’s Switzerland; the main character’s homeland. This is but one in a long line of excellent novels by Rivers. Where some reviewers have criticized her, I applaud her for being culturally authentic in the novel by weaving in parts of the German and French languages. This factor adds a unique flavor to the novel; somehow it brings a depth that would not otherwise be there if the book was solely written in the English language. Her Mother’s Hope deals with subjects such as abusive fathers, family tension, World War 1, immigration, escape, death, grief, loss, bitterness, stubbornness, generational sin, and much more. The opening chapters of the book introduce the reader to the main character, Marta Schneider. Marta has grown up under the heavy hand of her abusive father, and the feeble will of her sickly mother. Her mother loves her, but she loves her younger sister, Elise, much more. Elise is pampered and treated as an equal because of her beauty, while Marta is treated harshly. For a time, Marta finds fulfillment in working for a French family who treat her as an equal, but her world comes crashing down when she finds out that her sister is pregnant as a result of rape. Elise finds that she cannot live with the horror of what has happened to her, and, lost in grief, takes her own life. Shortly after this Marta’s frail mother dies of consumption…and a broken heart. When her older brother Hermann decides to escape these troubles by going to war, Marta is left alone with her drunken father. He plans to make money by having her follow his will. Marta’s hatred for her father drives her to flee her broken home. She soon falls in love and marries a young Swiss man named Niclas Berhard. As they try to find a place to settle down, Niclas’s German tongue rouses suspicion during times of war and unrest. Niclas wants Marta to come with him to the wilderness of Canada, but she refuses and opens a boarding house. For a time, this brings much needed funds, but eventually Marta has to move with her husband and newborn son to the place she hates. In Canada a second child is born to Marta, a sickly little girl whom she names Hildamara Rose. Marta hardens her heart against the child, thinking she will die. However, Hildamara lives and exceeds her expectations. In spite of this, Marta refuses to show affection to her eldest daughter, and pretends to love her other children more. All throughout Hildamara’s childhood Marta treats her in the same manner, therefore becoming like the man she still hates, her father. Will Marta see the error of her ways and begin to rebuild broken relationships? Will she let her broken past rule her more promising present? To answer these questions, read the book! Her Mother’s Hope, combined with the sequel, would make an excellent Christian drama film. In fact, a truly talented creator could tailor the film to be an epic, as the story follows someone’s whole life. We here at Box Office Revolution continue to long for the day when Christian filmmakers will recognize the untapped potential found in superior works of Christian fiction such as these.

The Canopy by Angela E. Hunt

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The Canopy is one of Angela E. Hunt’s golden novels that is timelessly thought-provoking. In this novel she asks the question, do you believe in miracles? She goes on to ask, do you believe that only God can perform miracles in our lives? For the main character of the novel, the answer to this question will determine her future. The Canopy deals with subjects such as the Amazon jungle, terminal diseases, the search for a cure, family ties, friendships, romantic relationships, truth, lies, despair, joy, healing, redemption, and God’s unfailing love. The opening chapters introduce the reader to the main character, a woman named Alexandra (Alex) Pace. Alexandra is a neurologist seeking to discover the cure for a disease that is overtaking her own body. She has told no one of her diagnosis, and is desperate to find a cure before it passes to her daughter. For this reason, she agreed to be part of a team traveling to the Amazon jungle to discover the secret cure….long hidden in the possession of an obscure tribe of natives living deep in the jungle. She first learned of this cure from a British doctor named Michael Kenway. His enthusiasm regarding the possibility of a cure was infectious (no pun intended), and spurred on her decision to make the trip. Alex’s determination to conceal the truth from her daughter is becoming increasingly difficult to implement, mainly because of the caring concern expressed on her behalf by a certain British doctor. As the team travels deeper into the forest, the disease settles into every corner of Alex’s body. She will not be able to hide her diagnosis for much longer. While the disease is trying to take her life, two forces are fighting for the possession of her soul. One brings only darkness, while the other promises life and light for eternity. Weak and sick, Alex is tired of fighting, and begins to lose hope. Only when she witnesses the healing of a member of the fabled tribe are her eyes opened to the truth. Will Alex choose Jesus? Or will she give in to the lies of the enemy? And where does love fit in to all this? To answer these questions, read the book! The Canopy would make a very interesting Christian film in the suspense genre, as it is easily one of the most unique Christian novels on the market today. We here at Box Office Revolution are still waiting for the day when Christian filmmakers will recognize the potential found in brilliant Christian novels such as these.

The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers

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The Scarlet Thread is one of Francine Rivers’ many excellent Christian novels. However, unlike many of her books, in the beginning the story seems to be a bit pedestrian; compared to her more epic tales. Yet, as the reader will soon find, the story has just as much meaning as her other novels, even though the outcome of the story is a bit idealistic. I feel that this story is more relevant in regards to the everyday, for her other novels are usually geared towards the big picture. This novel deals with subjects such as family tension, generational struggles and sin, marital relationships, upper class American families, friendship, betrayal, lies, truth, and the search for meaning and purpose in life. The opening chapters introduce the readers to the two main characters, Sierra and Alex. Sierra is a small-town girl who has lived in the same place her whole life. She met her true love, Alex, in high school, and, despite her family’s disapproval, married him when they both graduated from college. Soon they had two children and a seemingly perfect life, or so Sierra thinks. Sierra would be happy to live in suburbia and follow the same routines for the rest of her life, but Alex does not want to settle for so little. One day he is offered a job with a risky company trying to make their big break. He accepts without consulting Sierra, sells their home, and moves his family to Los Angeles. Sierra is angry with him for these decisions, and begins to become bitter. She does not enjoy the lavish, if somewhat gaudy taste of her rich neighbors, and is hesitant to join in on their country club activities. Eventually Alex tires of her moping, and gives her an ultimatum. Sierra decides that if she can’t beat the crowd, she might as well join them. Time goes on, and as Sierra sinks deeper into a frivolous life of pomp and circumstance, she feels increasingly empty inside. As her world begins to fall apart, Sierra searches for true meaning and purpose in life. Will she run into the arms of the One who loves her completely? To answer this question, read the book!;) The Scarlet Thread would be a good novel for the Kendrick Brothers to bring to the big screen as a drama film, especially since they have produced similar plots to this one before. In conclusion, here’s to hoping that someone will, someday soon, realize the potential found in Christian novels such as these.

Uncharted by Angela E. Hunt

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Uncharted is one of the most unique Christian novels on the market today, as it explores life, death, and the journey to reach the latter in a complex and unusually brilliant way. The novel is easily one of Hunt’s best works to date, and will remain so until she or another Christian author writes something even more brilliant. Uncharted deals with subjects such as secret sins, the past, present, and potential future of the characters, deserted islands, abandonment, murder, friends, enemies, lies, truth, and God’s unfathomable forgiveness for humanity. The opening chapters of the novel introduce the reader to the six main characters; old college friends who have reunited by chance at the bidding of a mutual friend who wishes them to participate in a mission trip halfway across the world. The goal of the mission trip is to build a school for poor families on a remote island, but what will actually occur is far from the intended outcome. On the way to the island, their ship wrecks on an alternate remote island. At first it seems that they are experiencing a typical shipwreck situation, but the friends soon discover that the island knows all their secrets. Furthermore, they will learn that all sin is equal in God’s eyes. This hard truth is the driving message of the novel. Will the friends survive the perils of the island’s knowledge? What will happen to them? To answer these questions, read the book!;) This novel would make an excellent Christian film in almost any genre, if done correctly. We here at Box Office Revolution look forward to the day when Christian filmmakers will pull their heads out of the sand and bring Christian novels such as these to the big screen!

Upcoming Christian Novels: Angela E. Hunt’s Latest Project

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Jerusalem’s Queen

Jerusalem’s Queen is the latest upcoming novel by Angela E. Hunt, the novel tells the story of a young woman named Salome Alexandra. “Born in the small village of Modein, a town made famous by the warrior Maccabees, Salome Alexandra knows better than to harbor grand dreams for her future. She pales in comparison to her beautiful older sister, and though she learns to read at an early age, girls are not valued for their intellectual ability. But when her father and sister are killed, John Hyrcanus, a distant relative, invites Salome and her mother to live with his family in Jerusalem, where her thirst for knowledge is noticed and indulged. When her guardian betroths her to a pagan prince, she questions HaShem’s plan. When Hyrcanus finally marries her to a boy half her age, she questions her guardian’s sanity. But though Salome Alexandra spends much of her life as a pawn ordered about by powerful men, she learns that a woman committed to HaShem can change the world.” ~www.angelahuntbooks.com

We look forward to Hunt’s latest novel with anticipation!

 

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

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Redeeming Love is the greatest Christian fiction novel I have ever read. It is Francine River’s self-proclaimed testimony of faith. It is the only book that I have ever read that describes God’s unconditional love for us with such depth and truth. Rivers, as usual, delves straight into the very heart of the story, exposing the raw and gritty elements for all to see, and therefore giving an excellent example of the depth of God’s forgiveness. Redeeming Love deals with subjects such as sin, prostitution, violation, bitterness, anger, hurt, forgiveness, God’s redeeming, unconditional love, the Biblical definition of marriage, the Biblical definition of sex, friendships, healing, and peace. The opening chapters introduce the reader to the main character, a young girl named Sarah. Sarah is the product of an affair between her mother and a married man. Her biological father wishes that she had never been born, and her mother cares more about her own happiness than Sarah’s. For a time, Sarah and her mother are supported by her biological father, but eventually he casts them aside. They slowly sell all that they own in order to survive, until Sarah’s mother is forced to sell herself to willing buyers. She becomes ill and dies, leaving Sarah in the hands of a foolish drunk who cares only about finding money with which to purchase more alcohol. He accidentally sells her into prostitution before he is murdered by Sarah’s new master. Sarah, only eight years of age, quickly learns that her new master desires her complete submission, and seeks to steal all of her innocence. She is his captive for quite some time. When she finally does escape, she accepts the offer to board a ship heading the opposite direction of her captor’s lair. While on board she learns that her passage comes at a cost. Sarah eventually ends up working for a local brothel, and there she comes to be known as the notorious prostitute named Angel. Angel lives a miserable life for many years, until one day….a man named Michael Hosea walks into her chambers. He is not like all the other men who walk through her doors, he only desires conversation. He tries to convince her to marry him and gain a better life. She is afraid to accept for a time, and initially refuses his offer. After a nearly fatal beating by her bodyguard, she accepts Michael’s offer and leaves with him. Michael proves to be a caring and loving husband, nursing her back to health and seeking to draw her out of her shell. Angel resists his love for the longest time, and at first only desires to escape her marriage. Michael keeps bringing her back and reaffirming his love for her. He calls her Amanda instead of Angel, and teaches her to cook and farm their land. She betrays his love by escaping once again with his brother, Paul, and by accepting Paul’s offer to pay his fare in the only currency she knows. However, Michael brings her back again, and tries his hardest to teach her about God’s love. She decides to stay for a while, and eventually becomes friends with their new neighbors. However, the time will come when she will have to make a final decision regarding her beliefs about God, love, and life. What will she decide? To answer this question, read the book!;) This novel would make landmark Christian epic, in the right hands. I am certain that if someone decided to bring this book to the big screen, and if they did their absolute best to remain true to the spirit of the novel; then this would be my favorite Christian film.

Melody Carlson’s Diary of a Teenage Girl Series: Kim Peterson

In this part of Melody Carlson’s Diary of a Teenage Girl Series, she introduces the reader to a new character, a teenage girl named Kim Peterson. This part of the series deals with subjects such as religion, Christianity, death, grief, healing, romantic relationships, conflicting interests, cancer, teen pregnancy, friendships, faith, family tension, cousins, and more. The first novel introduces the reader to Kim Peterson; Kim is a teenage girl of Korean descent who is searching for meaning in her life. Kim’s parents adopted her as a baby, and she has never known her biological family. Kim does not want to be tied down to Christianity, as she believes that it is too good to be true, so she begins to look into the religious practices of her ancestors. Kim experiments with Buddhism, and anything else that gives her temporary meaning. Her father has blackmailed her into writing an advice column for teens in the local newspaper, and she feels a heavy responsibility in truthfully answering the questions that readers submit. When a classmate is killed at school, Kim is flooded with questions about life and death, ones that she cannot answer. This leads Kim to search out the truth; she discovers the Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Kim becomes a Christian and tries to live her life in a way that would honor God. In the second novel, Kim’s newfound faith is put to the test when her mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Kim becomes romantically involved with a boy named Matthew, and he pressures her to give him her innocence. Kim is confused and hurting, and feels that the mountain in front of her is too big to climb. The third novel continues this thought, however, it brings hope, as Kim slowly begins to recover from her mother’s death. However, her dad loses his job and her best friend gives in to her boyfriend’s demands, becoming pregnant as a result. Kim feels that her world is crumbling, and feels powerless to stop it from happening. Eventually she accepts the facts and tries her best to cope. The final novel introduces new plot lines and finishes previous ones, it is, in my opinion, the best book of the series. This part of the Diary of a Teenage Girl series would make a great part three in a Christian miniseries. However, the creator would have to employ some editing, as some of the novels have overly long scenes. The casting would also have to be diverse. This is a concept that not many filmmakers seem to grasp.

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