April 15, 2010

Have you chosen YOUR path?

Crossroads: The Teenage Girl's Guide to Emotional Wounds

This book was written by: Suzy Weibel, a youth minister, and Stephanie Smith, a Gotee recording artist. In case you were unaware that Ms. Smith was a Gotee recording artist, this information is provided on the front cover, the back cover, the title page, the introduction, and on pages 131-134, where she recounts how she met and signed a deal with TobyMac (the Christian hip-hop mogul, not the failed housing lender).

What is in this book: This 156-page book features almost 100 pages that Stephanie Smith may have written herself, or at least dictated to her co-author. Each chapter—or "track", as the book calls them—is titled after a track from Stephanie's debut album, following her struggles as she grows up without a father. Stephanie notes that "God has done a lot in my heart, but I still crave a daddy sometimes"(p.145).
In the "Choose Your Playlist" and "Your Song" sections of each chapter, Stephanie engages the reader directly with questions to think about and action steps to take before the "So You Want to Be a Rock Star?" sections "visit the stories of ordinary people who have found themselves at all kinds of crossroads"(p.10).

What is not in this book: The kind of shallow thinking one associates with young girls. Smith challenges her readers, giving them things to think about and not pulling any punches. "It is seriously tough out there in the world. I don't want to depress anybody right off the bat, but if you pay any attention at all, you know what I'm talking about"(p.12). That's right, "life usually doesn't work out as neatly as in our plans or dreams"(p.50). Smith also uses similes that her readers can relate to, like when "messages of rejection from my dad and from Chris affixed themselves to my brain like a stubborn piece of already-been-chewed gum to the underside of a school cafeteria table"(p.61), and she refrains from some of the angsty excesses of her contemporaries when describing emotionally loaded scenes, like when "the midnight hour found me crying an absolute river of brokenness, repentance, and confession on a spare bed at my mentor's house"(p.87). Most importantly, Smith is honest with herself and her readers. "I don't know that this is the most profound thought I've ever had, but I began to think, You know, it is only because I was born where I was that I've known the life I've known."(p.118)

Crossroads is a surprisingly popular title for a lot of things.
Would you recommend this book to a fan of Britney Spears? No, it would be my sad obligation to inform them that this is not, in fact, the novelization of Ms. Spears' breathtaking, cinematic coming-of-age story.

Would you recommend this book to someone about to meet with the Reverend Mother? Yes. Observe:
"Sometimes when hurt blindsides us, we react like wounded animals. Feeling cornered and taken by surprise, it is only natural to want to take out our claws and put a good scratch on our attacker. But wait a minute. That's not how animals think. That's how humans think.
When an animal is wounded, it doesn't strike out with the intent to harm. I know that sounds crazy, but animals don't possess cognitive reasoning skills. An animal strikes out to create an escape route and hopefully to save its own life—not for revenge or justice
Now you are ready to face her Gom Jabbar.

There are lots of other lovely states besides Pennsylvania. Why not try Iowa? Iowa is nice.Would you recommend this book to someone from outside of Pennsylvania? Never! This book reveals that Pennsylvania is not only the sanctuary that offers Smith's mother an escape from her abusive husband (p.30), but also the location of (cancer-curing) Hershey Medical Center (p.24), a Christian high school that saves a girl from "a messed-up future"(p.142), a church where a young mother on the wrong track manages to turn her life and marriage around (p.94), a bed and breakfast where a woman forgives her husband and gives their marriage another chance (p.108), and the Penn State Softball team (p.23). True, there's a farm in central Pennsylvania where some guy's dad is kind of a jerk (p.54), but the book illustrates how this magical state has spelled salvation for Stephanie and at least six others. Allowing this book to spread the word would be a disaster. We must protect our Shangri-la from the auslanders!

What was interesting about this book? Although you should see a counselor if you need serious mental help, "it is of utmost importance that counseling be based on the foundation of God's Word"(p.66) because secular counseling is inherently defective.
However, it may have been the choices offered by Ms. Smith that were most interesting, like the choice between "two coats I could put on as I stepped into this plan: God's 'better' or my own coat, the one named 'bitter.' Which coat are you going to wear?"(p.107) I know the answer to that one! Smith also asks "Are you willing to believe that God is who he says he is and that his promises of care and love and presence are true? Or are you going to believe you're stuck in a life that will never work out and that you have no choice but to be unhappy, bitter, and disconnected?"(p.10) I know how I'm going to answer that one, too!
So really this book—and God's love—is all about not being afraid to look within yourself to find the answers that God put there.

Crossroads: The Teenage Girl's Guide to Emotional Wounds by Gotee Recording Artist Stephane Smith & Suzy Weibel (Zondervan, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-310-28550-2)

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Anonymous said...

No! You've revealed the most closely-kept secret in all of Pennsylvania! Yes, that guy is a jerk. But we're working on it, ok?!

Bitterly Books said...

Wait, the secret is that you only have one jerk in the entire state, or is he some kind of genetically abberant superjerk at the cutting edge of jerk technology?

Anonymous said...

I've already said too much!

Beth said...

I think she's wearing God's eyeliner.

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