Grasping at Moonbeams and Pitch Black

Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Today's books both take a serious look at very extreme issues. Grasping at Moonbeams discusses witchcraft and Pitch Black addresses suicide.

#1 -
Grasping at Moonbeams by Jane Vogel, Focus on the Family Publishing, 2002
Grasping at Moonbeams (Brio Girls) 
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 14-19
Subject: Witchcraft
Summary: Becca's heart is breaking. She want so bad for her best friend, Solana to become a Christian. Becca knows the consequences of not choosing Christ, but after all these years, Solana continues to refuse faith. Then after getting trapped in a dangerous situation, Solana opens up a little more. Someone on the volleyball team convinces Solana to attend a spiritual gathering event. Becca, thrilled, joins her. However, when it turns out to be a group of girls devoted to Wicca, Becca is confused. Isn't that witchcraft? Isn't is evil? This looks so much like her own faith. Can it really be bad? Is it really that different? They pray, they do good works, they confess their sins, follow a rule of "Harm no one", all things Christianity teaches are right. So what's the difference?
Notes: Grasping at Moonbeams takes a very honest look at Wicca and modern Witchcraft. Many still picture old ladies with broomsticks and pointy noses when they think of Witchcraft. But those who choose the religion of Wicca are often ordinary people. And the things they do and say can look similar to Christianity. The difference is who the faith is put in. Wicca is about putting your faith in yourself, and if carried to the extreme, spirit powers that can be from Satan. Christianity is recognizing your lack of ability to save yourself and putting your faith in the only one who can: Christ. Wicca looks appealing. The power and control it offers can seem inviting. It is a real religion, as real as Mormonism or Hinduism. Grasping at Moonbeams does a good job showing this and pointing out why it is different than Christianity.

#2 - Pitch Black by Melody Carlson, NavPress, 2004
Pitch Black: Color Me Lost (True Colors Series #4) 
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 14+
Subject: Suicide
Summary: Morgan's best friend is dead. It sure seemed like Jason had it altogether. His family was well off financially, he attended youth group, he did good in school, he was kind to everyone. If he of all people found no hope for life, why should Morgan or anyone else? Pretty soon, suicide pacts are spreading around the school. Life is just hopeless it seems. If Jason checked out, maybe they should just follow his example and join him. Some try to say stuff about God or faith, but life is just so messed up...
Notes: This book is depressing. It's supposed to be that way. It's real, very real. And it has good points. When someone who seems like they've got good stuff going for them commits suicide, it seems to say to others "there's no hope" and "if they couldn't get it together, you certainly can't". Morgan, Seth, Grace, Micah and the others are desperately searching for hope. They think they'll find it in death. It is only after alot of pain and struggling that any of them can come to the point of choosing to make a pact to live instead of pact to die. But they do! By the end of the book, all but Seth have made a choice to live and the others have gotten Seth's parents to take them seriously and get him some help. Jason's parents reveal that before he died he apologized and confessed that he only wanted to get his dad's attention, he didn't really want to die. I recommend this book for any who have come to a point of questioning whether or not there's any hope, whether or not there's anything to live for or if death would be better. It's so brutal however, I don't recommend it to younger readers unless they need it. In other words, I recommend it for helping struggles only, not for entertainment. Also, I don't feel that the adults in the story were good role models. Very few of them took the teens seriously and did not address the hurt and pain and depression the teens were feeling. They just tried to make the teen promise not to commit suicide, leaving the teen with no solution to the depression they felt.
Recommendation Scale: 4


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