Light Up New York

Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Mia couldn’t have been more surprised if Jennifer had reached down and pulled the rug out from under their feet. Did Jennifer know? She couldn’t. But then why was she asking them this question? Mia’s heart thumped in her chest, and the silent words, “Don’t do it, Lulu. Don’t do it!” beat in her ears. But how could she expect her little sister to keep the secret at a moment like this, with the eyes of… everyone… watching? Mia knew she should say something, but she wasn’t sure what to say. She couldn’t lie on national television? No, of course she couldn’t. But what could she do?

Book: Light Up New York by Natalie Grant, Zonderkidz, 2017
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 10-14
Subjects: Sibling Relationships, Truth, Helping the needy, Showing love to others
Summary: The whole city is to be lit up! Candles everywhere! But not just with lights, with love too! A week has been declared to reach out to the hurting and needy in the city of New York and the Glimmer family has a role to play in it. Mom will put on a concert and the girls will do a part of a concert too in an effort to promote their own album – the one they created with their friend who had been homeless. They are raising money to meet the needs of the homeless too, just like the adults are. As soon as they arrive in New York City though, a mystery greets them. Some mysterious person is leaving gifts all over the city with a snowflake attached. The gifts are always personal, just the perfect thing for the receiver. Yet they are all over the place, with seemingly no connection to each other. A pair of wool socks, a birthday cake, a blanket of their favorite color. How does one person know all these different people? The Glimmer Girls are determined to find this mysterious Snow Angel, as the city is calling it. But in the meantime, Maddie and Mia have some lessons to learn about how to handle an annoying little sister!
Notes: Light Up New York is the fourth in the Glimmer Girls series – a series by music artist, Natalie Grant. She writes a story comparable to her own life – 3 daughters, the oldest two twins, a singer mom, a producer dad. The strength of the story is in the way the family lives out their faith, making it a party of everything they do. It shows young girls asking the kinds of questions girls do at that age and parents giving them the answers they need, directing them to the right source.
In this fourth book, the twins, are wrestling with how to show love to their little sister. Lulu is first of all, just simply being annoying, being whiny and getting her way, being embarrassing, being irresponsible and once, just plain spiteful! Maddie and Mia learn a lesson about how to return meanness with kindness and about how to tell the truth in a way that encourages forgiveness and builds trust rather than brushing things over and claiming they are ok while really harboring bitterness. They learn to be honest, not just with their sister, but with their parents. Here’s an example: “Mia nodded, trying to reframe what she needed to say from an accusation into words that felt more truthful.” “Plus, you’d be doing what big sisters should do, model a way to be. You’re showing Lulu that it’s okay to talk about being upset. Maybe after a while, she will try it herself. You never know. Maybe she’ll start talking to you about her feelings rather than acting out. Or crying.”
There is also the spiritual element of giving to the needy. The Light Up New York event the Glimmer Girls are participating in encourages everyone in New York City to reach out to others. People are sleeping outside on a cold winter night to raise awareness for the homeless. Talented people are raising money to donate to charities or education. And the Snow Angel (SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!) winds up being people who have decided to listen to those around them and find unique ways to secretly meet the small needs they become aware of.
Interestingly, in contrast, the book also seems to promote a materialistic mindset. The Glimmer Girls are apparently very wealthy. They are staying in what is portrayed as a very nice hotel for days, renting 2 rooms of it, visiting numerous tourist spots, eating out at restaurants for every meal, and the girls keep getting toys and money to spend on souvenirs. It’s an interesting contrast – supposedly they are in the city to help the poor, but they are clearly quite comfortable living with a very materialistic mindset. Some might find it offensive the way the girls are given so many toys and souvenirs merely upon the asking for it.
It also shows the girls turning to prayer and at one point, it says, “Breathe, she told herself. Then she realized she was trying to do things on her own again. She wondered why her first impulse when she was worried wasn’t to pray. It was so easy to forget that God was right there, waiting for her to reach out.”
I highly highly recommend this book and the others in the series! They are very well done books that challenge young girls to grow in their faith.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 19:21 - Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion! I greatly enjoyed it!


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