Fading Tracks
(FaithGirlz Boarding School Mystery)
Kristi Holl
Zonderkidz
2008

I am a snob about Christian literature. I’ll admit it right here, right upfront. Oh, don’t get me wrong–I’ve read PLENTY in my day. Why, back in the day, I practically lived on a steady diet of Grace Livingston Hill, Janette Oke, Bodie Thoene, Michael Phillips,….  But they are all kinda the same, aren’t they? “Christian Disney” if you will**. So, you can imagine my smirks when I saw the FaithGirlz series in the public library–that “z” is a sure fire sign that this is “quality” literature, isn’t it?

But you know what? It’s not that bad. This is Nancy Drew in Christian form–well, a 12-year-old/6th grade girl in a private boarding school named Jeri (short for Jericho) in lieu of the slightly older Nancy Drew. If you love mysteries and good clean fun–you might want to check these out.

Truth: Overall, I really like how this book handled Jeri’s Christian faith. There is no preachy-come-to-Jesus moment. There are no cheesy-prayers-which-are-really-evangelical-opportunities-in-disguise. In that respect, Jeri’s faith seems genuine and unaffected. And, for that, we should applaud Kristi Holl. Well done. I also like that there’s absolutely NO romance in this book–3 cheers for writing a story for girls where there is no pining after Mr. Right. Where Truth starts to slide over into truth is this: Jeri consistently disobeys those in authority over her–all in the guise of sleuthing and rescuing lost girls. Laudable reasons. But at one point, she seems to clearly feel that the Lord is leading her to do these things (she gets a hunch and feels that it’s from the Lord). I’m uncomfortable with that. In my experience, the Lord doesn’t usually lead us to obey authority, especially when the authority is not commanding us to sin. That is going to be a potentially dangerous message to pass onto impressionable middle school girls; let’s be honest: how many outright laughable “hunches” did YOU have in the sixth grade?

Story: For what this short novel is, it’s pretty well done. This isn’t stellar writing–it’s mystery writing for those who want an action packed story and a quick read. This particular genre doesn’t usually lend itself to powerful prose that makes you want to stop and ponder….

Reading: Share these with the middle school girls in your life (or upper elementary). There are a slew of titles in the FaithGirlz series. But remember: you need to remind the young folks slurping these down to stop, take a breath, and think through whether the characters’ actions are the right actions–even when those characters are Christians.

Sources: Book from local library; “Christian Disney” description from friend; cover image from goodreads

What Christian fiction for middle schoolers have YOU found to be worth reading?

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