Just As I Am
By Virginia Smith
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (May 15, 2006)
When purple-haired Mayla Strong struts down the center aisle of Salliesburg Independent Christian Church, the bug-eyed congregation strains to get a peek at her pierced nose and lip. Determined to make her heavenly Father proud, Mayla's sincere and often hilarious attempts to let Him change her from the inside out take her into some difficult places, all the while growing in faith and wisdom.
Virginia Smith's debut novel is beyond cool. I got it in the mail last night and read it from start to finish. That rarely happens with me. Usually it takes at least a few days for me to plow through a really great book. The author portrayed the conversion and confusion of a brand new believer with perfection. The voice of the character was so down-to-earth and believable.
Issues came up that Mayla handled in a Christ-like manner. She did the right thing, like Jesus would do. I loved the storyline, the reality, the honesty, and lack of sarcasm. Mayla really did want to do right by God and her fellow man. She was the perfect example of how to be a true witness for Christ by being real and not changing herself to "conform" to the culture around her. I loved how she resisted, but then gave in.
She saw the reward in loving others and being the hands and feet of Jesus. She didn't know she was doing it, but she was loving Alex in a way that touched many around her, including people at work and where she lived. She demonstrated to her friends and roommate, "They will know you are Christians by your love." This overflowed into the lives of others in the church as well, even an old grouchy man.
When the timing was right, she did alter her radical appearance, but not because of external pressure, but a desire to please God, which is always the right motivation to have. I would love to see Mayla a few years from now dating her pastor. I hope there is a sequel in the works. That would be awesome. I want to see more books by this author.
Reviewed by Michelle Theresehttp://michelletheresewrites.blogspot.com/