Monday, September 08, 2014

More on: Born Again, Again

I am very pleased to have published my first piece with the Guardian, "Born Again, Again."  In that piece I refer to  an e-mail exchange I had with the author of "A Time to Cherish" the wildly successful Born Again Christian YA romance novel, Robin Jones Gunn.

Gunn was warm, helpful and thoughtful in all of her responses to me, and I wanted to include more of our conversation, very little of which made it in to the final piece.  Below are my questions in bold, her responses, which have been edited for length, and my thoughts are in italics.

Christy struggles when her best friend begins to question her faith. What, if anything, were you saying about young girls' frienships?
[...]As I wrote the series I always tried to imagine what a girl like Christy would think or feel when confronted with normal coming of age situations. Friendships are all encompassing during those years. In several of the stories Christy realizes how valuable friends are. She wrestled with keeping her friendships even when her BFF’s no longer agree with her. Relationships are a process and every single one of them requires careful thought and consideration because every life is of great value.
I guess you could say I was trying to communicate to young readers that they have the power to think. Think for themselves. Think things through. Think outside their own experiences, their own culture. Think about what the other person is going through and what they’re thinking. The stories weren’t designed to tell readers what to think. I just wanted them to think and not get rooted in a bias at a young age. A small life is one where you keep out anything or anyone who is different from you. You don’t take risks and you don’t extend grace. You don’t think. You let someone else do all the thinking for you. Christy grew as a character throughout the series because she was forced to think.
 On re-reading "A Time To Cherish" one of things that struck me most potently was just how didactic the book is. Of course, it only strikes me as overtly political because it espouses politics very different from my own.  While Christy herself often struggles with what to say to Katy, her best friend who is dating a non-Christian (he is also a vegetarian, wears Birkenstocks and eats health food, so he's basically a liberal Boogeyman) it is never in question that Katy is playing with fire or that Christy is right to worry about her friend. I'm fascinated that Gunn believes the book promotes free thinking. Perhaps it does promote thinking, but only within the rigid frame of BAC dogma. There's no dialetical conversation happening.