First off I'd like to say how thrilled I am to now be reviewing books for Tyndale House Publishers! I'm excited to be getting into more non-fiction and to be able to hopefully give you some honest and helpful insight into what's out on the market today!
I chose to review "The One Year Devos for Teen Girls" by Dannah Gresh and Suzy Weibel for a couple of reasons. First, I work with a pre-teen/teen girls discipleship group called Bright Lights. At the moment I am responsible for mentoring around 30 girls and I thought that I'd love to be able to recommend a good devotional to them. Though I have never read Dannah Gresh's work I know it is well recognized and praised within the Christian community and I wanted to see what she had to offer. Additionally, I hoped to be able to use this devo as a jumping off point or for illustrations in my BL lessons.
Each devotional is set up on a single page and includes a header, single scripture verse, and a large several paragraphed section of commentary followed by a small "Action Point" for the girl to put into practice what she learned that day. The format is easy to follow and is easily read and finished in 5-10 minutes depending on the reader. As stated in the title of the book this is a One Year devotional and thus there are entries for every day of the year (excluding leap year).
As I began reading through this book I soon grabbed a pad of sticky note flags and started marking up my book! I had pink flags for excellent, Biblically sound, entries; purple for ones that I would use with my BL girls; and yellow for ones that set off cautions in my mind. I did not mark every passage- just the ones that really stood out to me as I read. By the time I was done I took a look at what I had and thought it really was a mixed bag. In this devotional there are some really great spiritual insights, and entries that are great teaching tools. However, there are also some things that shocked me! Especially as this books is aimed at 12 years old and up! (Per Amazon).
Perhaps I shouldn't be shocked, after all the introduction does tell you that the topics were gleaned from 100 college girls that they contacted and asked what as younger teens did they most want/need to know or have addressed. The thing is that they have ended up with numerous entries discussing topics that I would never find appropriate to discuss with the girls I mentor. In these discussions I really felt like the authors missed the mark. I felt like they were trying to answer the World and throw and Christian 'spin' on something instead of showing from Scripture the Biblical standard and encouraging girls to rise to meet it. Some of the most objectionable entries are found in the May and July portions of the book and include topics on how much touching is ok in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, oral sex (!), pornography, and an entry on homosexuality that I found truly troubling as it begins- and immediately ends- the discussion with 'science' and not the Bible. Another entry I had trouble with is from March 22 and discusses "Is Eating Meat Okay?" the authors argument is misleading as she uses 1 Corinthians 8 (which speaks on meat offered to idols) to give vegetarianism preference. The Action Point for this entry encourages girls to try a vegetarian diet for a month or more! Maybe I'm old fashioned but it is my opinion that a child living in their parent's home should not be dictating the menu or placing financial strains on the family budget but be thankful for whatever is served.
On the flip side when the book is good it's really good! I enjoyed the entries on widows (3/15), where are the real men (7/24), lying in friendships (9/5), and even the entry on gendercide (9/25) that helps to expose the terrible and tragic realities of the world around us.
In the end, every parent is responsible for the discipleship of their own daughter. If you pick this book up and give it to you your girl as an easy check mark then you are doing your daughter a great disservice. If you pick it up and read every passage before hand and believe that the topics contained therein are good for your daughter- and discussion that you are willing to keep on top of- then go ahead. For me the standard has to be drawn at 'could I hand this out to the girls I mentor?' For me the answer was an absolute no. While I can see myself using portions as lesson points, as a whole I know that it would not meet the standard of the parents that I partner with in the important task of drawing their girls to Christ.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.