Monday, March 23, 2015

My Name Is Chloe (Diary of a Teenage Girl: Chloe #1) by Melody Carlson

Chloe, Josh Miller's younger sister, is a free spirit with funky clothes and dramatic hair. She struggles with her own identity, classmates, parents, boys, and -- her biggest question -- whether or not God is for real. But this unconventional high school freshman definitely doesn't hold back when she meets Him in a big, personal way. Refusing to change her image to fit into the "stereotypical Christian preppy mold," Chloe expresses God's love and grace through the girl band she forms, Redemption. In her development as a musician and performer, tender-hearted Chloe will learn tough lessons about following God, her heart, and her dreams.

My Thoughts:
Being a Christian who doesn't read many YA Christian-themed books, I thought I'd give this a try. I maybe shouldn't have.

For starters, this book is really, very poorly written. It was cheesy and forced. Characters in this book didn't speak like normal people and just about all dialogue felt unnatural. The whole thing kind of felt like an after school special put on by a local preacher; "Hey kids, it's cool to be Christian! Just ask this punk rocker girl who speaks like a 30-year-old!" And it's all written in diary form, right? So everything is from Chloe's perspective. And I just didn't buy into Chloe's personality. At all. She didn't read like a teenage girl. She read like a middle-aged woman trying to act hip.

There were a few different plotlines going on, which I appreciate, but a couple were just... stupid. The bullying storyline was ridiculous. I guess stuff like this can happen, but really? It didn't feel legitimate. It was cliche and corny and just dumb.

The music aspect of the book was nice. I liked all the scenes where Chloe played at the coffee shop and the battle of the bands thing. I'm a sucker for music, though.

Conversion was a main theme here. Chloe got converted to Christianity and was instantly happy with herself. I don't deny that feeling the presence of God in your life will help you feel better about the world in general but it's not a solve-all that will fix all your depression and whatever-other problems you have. Conversion is a process that takes time and does not just make everything perfect. And then, once Chloe is converted, she begins to pray for everyone around her to be converted, too. It's almost like saying, "Hey, I like my friends for who they are, even though they're all completely different but if they were all Christian like me I'd like them a whole lot more."

What kind of message is that to send? That we'd only like other people if they were the same as us? Not cool. And her friend Allie who does end up converting from Wicca to Christianity just--so flaky. And dumb. Allie, grow a pair and do what you believe in, not whatever your friends are doing at the time just so you can fit in.

Caitlin bugged just because she was so, so far to the right. I mean, she didn't date, didn't talk about anything unrelated to religion and pretty much only contacted Chloe to bully her into accepting God into her life. I. Just. Can't.

So I couldn't get over the after-school-special feel this whole book had. "Hey, kids, we Christians enjoy diversity but pray for everyone you know to become Christian and we can all be the same! And we'll all be happy, too!" It kind of felt petty, to be completely honest. As a religious person myself, I just can't get over the way the Christians in this book pushed and nagged those around them into thinking about becoming Christian. Yes, it's a lovely thing to accept in your life. But only if you want it in your life. And not everyone accepts Christianity and that should be fine. This book made it seem like everyone who was prayed for accepted Christianity pretty easily. Unrealistic. I felt like the kids in this book were kind of bullied into religion. That's never a good thing. Religion is something that needs to be discovered for yourself. Yes, learn about what's out there if you're interested in religion but someone else can't just pray for you to become Christian and BAM! you're Christian. Doesn't work that way.

To wrap up, this book was simplistic, unrealistic and kind of dumb. I was hoping for something uplifting but it kind of made me a little downhearted about religious people in general.

Sexual Content: None
Language: None
Drugs/Alcohol: None
Violence: None

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