Book Review: "Motorcycles, Sushi and One Strange Book" by Nancy Rue
Normal? While family dinners and vacations to touristy destinations are ordinary events for her "normal" friends, fifteen-year-old Jessie Hatcher's normal life means dealing with her ADHD and her mother's bipolar disorder. So why is Jessie shocked when the unexpected happens? Now her "normal" includes living in Florida with the father she always thought was dead and learning the secrets of sushi from a man who teaches by tormenting her. Life isn't any saner with her dad, but a cute guy and a mysterious book might just be the crazy Jessie needs.
From the cover of this book, this looks like it will be your normal, fluffy, Chick-lit YA story. Well as the old saying goes, don't judge a book by it's cover. The cover may be light but the story is heavy and deep. As soon as you start reading, Jessie's situation hits you from the get go. She's only 15 but she's experienced a lifetime of hardships that some adults will never have to face. It made me sad to think that she's had to deal with her mother who is bipolar all by herself and with no one else to help her out at all. It's caused her to have to lie about it to her friends her entire life and there's no one to turn to when she's in desperate need of help. Then out of the blue, she gets a phone call from a man who says he's her biological dad who she thought was dead all these years. Jessie's life begins to change starting on that day.
It's easy for a while to get annoyed with Jessie's behavior. Her mother mentions several times that she has the maturity of an 8 year old in a 15 year old body. And it's true, that there are times when I don't understand why she acts so immaturely sometimes and want to get frustrated with her behavior. However then it's explained about her ADHD and all the problems she's had to deal with living with a mother who is bipolar and it all makes sense. I'm not excusing her behavior but it's good to see that this book does NOT condemn the use of medication or psychiatrists.
This book does feature passages from the Bible but they are portrayed in the form of the mysterious book that Jessie finds. She discovers that it speaks directly to her and helps her in times of need. I really liked how the version of the Bible used is The Message as that is one of my favorite versions because I feel that it really speaks to people who normally avoid reading the Bible because they think they cannot understand it. Jessie's usage of the book is sprinkled throughout the story and is not overtly preachy. Instead it helps and guides her instead of dominating over her life.
Topics such as ADHD, mental illness, alcoholism which are normally avoided in most Christian fiction is brought to full attention here. There are even multi cultural characters to help develop the story more. There isn't a happy ending and there is no miraculous event where everyone gets well and lives happily ever after as a family. I wish more adult Christian fiction authors would take note of this as they tend to avoid almost all those elements in their books. Why is it that teens are more open to understand that life is not all roses and sunshine but adults want to avoid reality?
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I think it's a great start to the series. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books and discovering how the RL Book will affect all those who come across it. Again, don't dismiss this book as fluff. Be prepared to be affected while you read.
Motorcycles, Sushi and One Strange Book by Nancy Rue is published by Zondervan (2010)
This review copy was provided by the Amazon Vine program