Monday, October 3, 2011

Book Review for: Books 3 & 4 of the Katy Lambright Series by Kim Vogel Sawyer...



Katy’s Homecoming by author Kim Vogel Sawyer was released in February 2011 by Zondervan (zondervan.com). This is #3 in a series about Katy Lambright, an Old Order Mennonite girl.

In this book Katy has been given the opportunity that others may have only dreamed of: to go to a normal, public high school in Salina. While she has been given permission by the elders of her Mennonite order, this permisson has only been given for her sophomore year, and the possibility of continuing depends wholly on IF she can maintain her strict system of beliefs without being affected by the world with which she will confront.

Katy is a normal teenager with a strong belief system that is challenged by the coming remarriage of her dad, relationships changing, and losing focus of prioritites. Now, as she begins a new adventure in Salina High School, she will have to face a world that will try to discourage her by scheming lies and unkindness, trickery, unwarranted hatred, being made fun of, peer pressure, and numerous other ways of making another feel badly. The biggest surprise is when she is elected as part of the Homecoming Court. How can she find the balance of wanting to be beautiful to her new friends and the boy with whom she has a crush while still being true to what she knows in her heart is real and best? Questions and doubts thrust her into a full battle of heart and soul as she needs to decide if she will give into her personal desires or choose as would be most pleasing to God. Being different from what the world likes or expects comes with a price, and for Katy that means choosing the comfort, integrity, and security of traditional faith or walking away from it all, if even for one day. But, would it truly be for only one day? Regarding this there is a constant nagging concern in her heart that does not seem to be subdued easily… When the two worlds of the Old Order Mennonite community and Salina High School collide, Katy will be confronted with what really matters in friendship, boys, and faith, and what she decides will have a profound change on her future.

The author, Kim Vogel Sawyer, shows brilliant insight into the conflicts involved in a preteen or early teen girl’s life. Elements such as these are scattered within the pages: Dealing with temptation, wrong versus right, faith and integrity versus materialism and worldliness, not judging by appearance, selfishness versus servanthood, and how to deal with first feelings of a crush. The importance of manners and behaviours even to those not liked or trusted was one I felt worth the notice, by the way.

I, surprisingly, found myself paralleling Katy’s Mennonite upbringing with my own strict upbringing. I found many of her sentiments and feelings reflected in my own, many I have experienced myself when facing challenges, especially regarding growing up. The emotional ups and downs of crushes and learning about true love, handling trust delicately, honesty even when it hurts, friendship, servanthood, and walking out faith no matter what, are each elements that have rung true in my own life.

I was not initially excited to read this book, but I was very pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it so much. Katy has become a friend with whom I very much wish I could know more about. I wish I had the entire series, and I would wholly allow my daughter to read this and know that she was facing truth with a good dose of persistent faith. I am honored to have this book to hand down to my daughter. I was blessed in the reading of it, as some of the lessons within, though meant for a young girl, are timeless and a great reminder to my own heart.

If you would like more information regarding the author, Kim Vogel Sawyer, please go to www.kimvogelsawyer.com
For other information regarding the book, including prices and the like, please go to www.zondervan.com

Disclaimer: I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. :-)


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Katy’s Decision by author Kim Vogel Sawyer was released in May 2011 by Zondervan (zondervan.com). This is #4 in a series about Katy Lambright, an Old Order Mennonite girl.

“… Lord, we praise You because we know You are a God who wastes nothing. You will use this experience to grow the Lambright family closer to each other and to You. Thank You for giving us all we need to face challenges of this life. Amen.” (Reverend Nuss’s prayer)

Katy has great plans for the summer. With school out and her best friend, Shelby, staying with her for 6 weeks due to a broken leg and not being able to attend a mission trip with her family, many memory-making activities are in their minds to do; but Katy and Shelby are forced to reevalute their priorities when tragedy hits the Lambright family and the Old Order Mennonite community. When Aunt Rebecca is diagnosed with cancer, all plans are postponed and their focus is put to helping to run Aunt Rebecca’s fabric store while she goes through surgery, treatments, chemotherapy, and healing.

There are challenges to their new responsiblities, but the girls take it all on together; but then some other challenges approach that have Katy swirling with doubt and indecision. Three boys- who is best for her and her faith… her future? She is dealing with feelings so very new to her, and there is so much to consider. As summer nears to its close, and school is looming in the not-too-distant future, Katy is concerned about all she has worked for regarding her own life. Will she be able to go back to Salina High School? That depends on the elders and how soon Aunt Rebecca can return to the store. And what about her desire to be a journalist? And even after Katy has made her decision about one of the boys, the questions continue to come. Is he the one? He seems to have so many of the valuable qualities that mean so much to her, but… Unless a particular change occurs, even he is not a definite, even though she wants him to be. What to do? Here is another test of faith as trials mount and seem hopeless; but, there are also some surprises that God has in store for her. He is faithful.

Once again, Kim Vogel Sawyer has enchanted us with Katy Lambright. Her Salina and Old Order Mennonite worlds conflict and create some very interesting situations, some that will made me feel like crying with Katy, and others that made me laugh. All in all, it was a very enjoyable journey. Themes like “doing the right thing is hard sometimes”, heart tug-of-wars and crushes, learning to appreciate and care for a new stepmom, loving someone even when it is tough, accepting others even with their differences, and the importance of prayer in all decision-making are seen throughout the contents of this story. I would like to also make a point of mentioning the importance of good role models and supporters, of mentors and encouragers, to scatter their wisdom, love, and care through the trials. Even though Katy was cautious in what she let go to her heart, she was surrounded by others who were praying for her to have God’s wisdom to make the right decisions, those who could just give a hug of support, or those who just listened to her as she spoke. May we all have God bless us in such a way, with such as these.

I was particularly struck by the possiblity of Katy having to “let go of her dreams”. I, myself, had to deal with a time very similar to that in the feelings she expressed. I came to this conclusion: In Katy’s words, “First of all, I prayed. A lot. I wanted to make sure it was something I was even supposed to pursue. I knew I couldn’t be happy following my dream if my dream wasn’t what God wanted for me.” When I gave my dreams to God, after He did quite a bit of convincing and encouraging, I was amazed to be relieved. The weight of even my childhood-to-adult dreams had added a weight to me that I could not even understand. When I gave it all to Him, He blessed me with peace and such relief to leave it all “in His capable hands”.

At the end of reading this book, this verse clung to my brain, “All things work together for good for those who are in Christ.” Along with the verse “There is a time for everything…”, they sum up the basic messages of this story.

If you would like more information regarding the author, Kim Vogel Sawyer, please go to www.kimvogelsawyer.com
For other information regarding the book, including prices and the like, please go to www.zondervan.com

Disclaimer: I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. :-)

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