Sunday, March 9, 2008

Virginia Smith has outdone herself this time!

ABOUT THE BOOK: Sincerely, Mayla. (ISBN 978-0-8254-3692-5, Kregel Publications) The purple hair is gone, but Mayla Strong’s spunk and her nostril stud remain. She has set her cap for Pastor Paul—if only he would give in and accept the inevitable. When he stubbornly resists her charms, she goes off to sulk at her grandmother’s. Soon the house fills up with strays: a sullen teenage runaway and an angry ex-friend. As Grandmother serves up huge portions of guilt along with her famous fried chicken, Mayla realizes being a control freak is an inherited trait. She knows God has all the answers—the trick is letting go long enough to let Him prove it.
My Review:
“I think trying to control every situation you find yourself in is a sign that you don’t trust God to work things out to your satisfaction. Sometimes you just have to put things in His hands and let Him work it out His own way.” These words are spoken by Mayla Strong’s Aunt Louise on page 189 of Virginia Smith’s latest novel, Sincerely, Mayla. There are a host of circumstances that bring Mayla into this very significant conversation.

Her story begins in the novel Just As I Am. Mayla has lived life in rebellion against God, but the Lord answers her mother’s prayers, and she is saved from that life and born again as a child of God. However, her pierced nose and multi-pierced ears remain a trademark well into her new walk with Christ. When Sincerely Mayla opens up, we find our main character facing the challenges of suddenly becoming unemployed. Like every circumstance in the lives of God’s children, Mayla discovers this turn of events to have a purpose, and it opens the door for her to re-establish a broken relationship with her grandmother and aunt. Their relationship was severed years before by the death of her father, and Mayla determines to make her own decisions about these absentee members of her family.

Leaving for her visit with family turns out to be another challenge. Mayla has what she hopes is a budding romance on her hands, and she thinks that the old adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder” might help the relationship along. What she could never guess is that once she arrived at her grandmother’s home, some of her past relationships would follow her on her journey – seeking answers of their own. What started out as a family reunion of sorts buds into something much more meaningful and indeed, life-changing for everyone involved.

Virginia Smith’s main character, Mayla, is fantastic! I love her spunk, her zeal for Christ and her deep friendships. I love the openness of her heart and her willingness to reach out to others. Her past allows her to see very clearly that God’s grace alone is what saves us from our own selves. On page 196 she shares an insight with a friend who is seeking his own answers. “Any life not completely devoted to the Lord is wrong. And that’s basically every person on the face of the earth.” No matter whether we sport a diamond in our nose or wear the latest fashion and work in a prestigious job, we all stand in need of God’s redeeming work in our lives before we can understand what living really means. So, when Mayla finally signs her name “Sincerely, Mayla” on page 213, she has learned a lesson from God’s heart that will forever change her own.

This book is absolutely terrific! The characters are real and their struggles genuine and difficult. The story is filled with a full array of emotion… moments of laughter and poignant moments of silence and reflection…all woven within the journey of becoming the person God wants us to be. I highly recommend this novel, and I sincerely hope to see Mayla appear in another story someday! Bravo!! Please visit Virginia's site here and learn about all of her great books!


Unknown said...

Kim - you've got my wanting to get this book and start reading about Mayla. :) thanks!!!

love ya, friend!

Rachel said...

Kim, please enter me....I am curious! This coming from a former (and occasionally current :) ) control freak!