Maisy May by Naomi Kramer is a brief, charming, realistic Christian novella
that explores the thought process of every young adult who confronts their ingrained
beliefs with the nuances of the real world.
Maisy is not a good Christian girl. She’s the daughter of a single mum who’s also an ex-addict, for starters. She gets bored during services, loves the emo aesthetic, and has a penchant for swearing. But nothing compares to the snowball of “sin” that the new kid in the church will bring with him. How will Maisy make up her mind about what’s right and what’s not? And how will she navigate this tight-knit Christian community once she becomes the official black sheep of Bathurst?
Maisy May by Naomi Kramer is not a traditional Christian fiction book. I would catalog it as “realistic” Christian fiction. Meaning, Maisy faces the real world in which everything is not black and white, right or wrong, and she learns about her urges, and her doubts, too. This is not the “clean” and saccharine sweet story that some parents would wish their kids would read, but it’s exactly the kind of book they want and need to read.
The language in this novella is brilliant. The author warns us that the book contains “Australian spelling and slang” which I personally find incredibly charming. It’s notable that the author included a glossary of Aussie terms with their corresponding links, making this book accessible to English speakers all over the world. Details like this set fantastic books apart from just good ones. The slang added to Maisy’s tendency towards profanity and an incorrigible tendency to say whatever’s on her mind makes for authentic, raw dialogues that bring the whole story to life. And the first-person narrative works great for such a personal plot.
This novella broaches often censured subjects such as teen sex, gay relationships, and doubts about the Bible’s literality. Which, in my opinion, is quite more realistic than pretending young adults will never face these issues. Kramer does it, too, with the perfect balance between sensitivity and honesty. Though there’s love in her words, they’re not too cuddly. This is great because being patronizing towards teens is the best way for them to stop listening.
The novella, though obviously brief, doesn’t neglect character development. I especially love Maisy’s relationship with her mom, who always encourages her to be herself and, unlike most parents, often apologizes when she does something wrong or loses her temper. The pacing is perfectly accomplished and, though it leaves space for a second installment (which I highly recommend, too) it doesn’t leave too many loose ends.
The story, whether or not you are Christian, is relatable. We all have to confront our ingrained beliefs. It’s part of becoming an independent-thinking adult. We all have to deal with society’s expectations. We all outgrow not only certain ideas, but certain relationships. And in this day and age, most of us wonder what our place is in the spectrum of gender roles.
Though there’s a bit of armchair psychology thrown in, the exploration of Maisy’s inquisitive psyche is interesting. And the one of her community, perhaps even more so. Take, for example, the following line: “It’s de rigeur for minister’s kids to get a good Christian upbringing, a good Christian education, and then go off the rails and go nuts. I got a great education in keeping up appearances, though.” Sounds like common knowledge, right? But perhaps that’s why we need books like this one. There’s plenty of research showing the effects of overly strict and sheltered parenting, but Maisy’s personal path will truly drive the point home and, hopefully, help establish a conversation between parents and teens.
Overall, Maisy May makes for a fast-paced, highly relatable, and socially meaningful read for young adults and their parents, Christians or not. And the Aussie accent just makes it even better.
- Title: Maisy May
- Author: Naomi Kramer
- Genre: YA Fiction
- Theme: Christian values, Teenage life
- Publication Date: November 12 2013
- ISBN or ASIN: B003OUXDE8
- Number of Pages: 108
- Minimum Audience Age: 15
(Note: 0=none, 1=a few, 2=considerable, 3=pronounced, 4=excessive)
- Sexual themes: 3
- Religious themes: 3
- Violence, self-harm, etc.: 1
- Crude language, expletives, swearing, etc.: 3
- Other adult themes: 2
- Content: 5 stars
- Writing Style: 5 stars
- Appeal to Target Audience: 5 stars
- Uniqueness: 5 stars
- Editing: 4 stars
- Other factors: 5 stars
- Overall: 4.8 out
For more posts like this, here’s the link: https://thechrysalisbrewproject.com/category/bookish-posts/.
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