I read A LOT of young adult literature. In fact, as a middle school English teacher, it is kind of my job. Life is rough, right?! So, I have many favorite books in the YA genre.
However, as my kids are starting to get older, I am realizing more and more that there is not a lot of Orthodox YA out there.
That is why I was so excited last year when I read Grace Brooks’s book Queen Abigail the Wise (you can read my full review of the book here). The novel far exceeded any expectations that I had for it, and quelled my fears that Orthodox literature for middle grade kids was bound to be cheesy or moralistic.
So, you can imagine how excited I was when Brooks released a second book in the series called Vanessa the Wonderworker. I couldn’t wait to read more about this strong, funny, and beautifully flawed yet earnest group of girls.
Vanessa the Wonderworker
Vanessa the Wonderworker centers around twelve-year-old Vanessa, who happens to be one of my favorite characters from the first book. Vanessa has many gifts and abilities, such as a beautiful voice, but she also has a family she is very worried about. In fact, her older brother has decided to leave the Church. He tells her he will only return if he sees a miracle.
As Vanessa searches for a miracle, she also befriends a homeless lady from church, enters into a singing contest, and grows in her faith–all with the help of her friends, of course.
What I Liked about the Book
I absolutely loved this book! Even though Vanessa the Wonderworker is quite a bit longer than the first book in the series, the plot was well-paced and compelling. I found myself extremely invested in the characters and was moved to tears by the ending.
In addition, I enjoyed:
- Well-developed Characters Vanessa and her friends are typical preteen girls filled with faith and doubts, virtues and flaws. They make mistakes and learn from them, all the while being capable of great love and sacrifice. If you have a preteen girl, the girls of Vanessa the Wonderworker are definitely ones you would want her to befriend.
- Orthodox Themes The story takes place during the Paschal season–from Pascha until Ascension. The themes of the various Sundays play a role in the plot of the story. In addition, the girls are introduced to the Orthodox understanding of a “holy fool” as they learn from another character’s unexpected wisdom.
I wholeheartedly recommend Vanessa the Wonderworker for girls ages 8-12 (and even older). If you are a Christian, and particularly if you are an Orthodox Christian mother:
-this book would make an excellent addition to your family library
-it is fantastic gift for your daughter, granddaughter or goddaughter
–Vanessa the Wonderworker would make a beautiful book club book for girls at your church. How fun would it be to read it and then discuss with a tea party!
-You might even enjoy it yourself. I sure did!
If you are not Orthodox, I still recommend the book. Any Christian girl who enjoys great storytelling with dynamic characters will appreciate the book. I am already looking forward to the next story in the series, because I can’t wait for Grace Brooks to release another book about this winsome group of girls!
Do you have any good book recommendations for Orthodox girls?
(I received a free copy of this book in return for my honest review of it. All favorable opinions of good literature are 100% my own.)
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