Come As You Are (Paperback)
Finding Peace in a Church Youth Group Godspell Production
Independently Published, 9781797978802, 168pp.
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
Christian readers will enjoy seeing how the faith of Casey's fellow actors (as well as the pastor and his wife) play out through kindness and acceptance, not through heavy-handed moralizing. The process of putting on a play contributes built-in suspense that will hold readers' attention.
The author's use of dialogue is particularly skillful; the characters' interactions feel genuine, and the author provides plenty of concrete details to help ground the narrative.
The trope of putting on a show never gets old, and the overlay of Christian values and Casey's redemption work well within the context of the church musical production. The narrative keeps readers rooting for her even as it acknowledges her imperfections and the obstacles she has to overcome.
The Book Life Prize, booklife.com
This relevant, adventurous young adult Christian novel explores faith, community, and family relationships within the setting of a church youth group's theatre production of the musical Godspell.
Fifteen-year-old Casey Donovan wants nothing more than to live wildly. In her town of Woodfield, Connecticut, she is more than content to toe the line of danger while trying to put away memories of a painful past.
But then she and her boyfriend are arrested for drug possession. To have the charges dropped, and keep peace as her mother goes through a bitter divorce, Casey reluctantly joins her local church's Youth Group.
She expects a boring summer as she helps with the church's summer theatre production of the musical Godspell. Though she longs to return to her old life, Casey soon finds herself bonding with the other teens in the group who have their own struggles. Slowly, this once lonely teen realizes that she is not alone in the challenges she has been afraid to face.
Part of Casey's journey involves letting go of two people who have harmed her in the past, even though at first she doesn't want to admit that they hurt her. Watching Casey grow in faith and become stronger and more confident as the novel progresses is a testament to the author's own experiences with growing up, letting go, and finding strength and faith in community.
As opening night of the musical nears, Casey will soon have to confront her own faith and connection to God.
Contains a set of intriguing discussion questions which can be used in a church youth group setting, or for the individual reader who feels led to write about their response to the story.
From rehearsals to building sets to creating costumes, Casey's journey inspires us to take a look at our own lives as we strive towards determining which friendships are most important and which can be safely turned away from.
Christians of all ages will savor this young adult novel and cheer Casey on from beginning to end. You'll be inspired to seek out places where you are invited to show up exactly as you are, and where you are accepted for being exactly who you are.