This third book in the "Carmen Browne" series on Christian school life by Stephanie Perry Moore is published by Moody Publishers.
Golden Spirit is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Carmen Browne's elementary school days transition into the summer months before middle school when she comes face to face with domestic violence, her selfishness and bossiness, and her choice to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She tells her continuing story that expands on the relationships within her extended family and the families of her friends. Domestic violence is presented through portrayals of husband-wife disputes in a neighbor's family and in Carmen's aunt's home. Carmen learns how to call for help and to encourage others to get assistance when exposed to domestic violence.
The story includes numerous opportunities for Carmen's leadership tendencies to cross the line into bossiness with her friends and siblings. Her parents and other adults provide mentoring to help Carmen recognize the importance of compromise. After accepting Christ, Carmen realizes that her choice doesn't prevent her from thinking and behaving selfishly. She is coached to talk with God daily about what is happening and ask Him for help. Carmen writes an end-of-story essay (traditional conclusion for this series) about her new relationship with Christ, what she learned about domestic violence, and her desire for Christians to follow God's shining light and help people affected by domestic violence.
Carmen's parents are Christian role models. They use daily situations to remind their children of God's ways. For example, when their three children are squabbling over who gets the largest bedroom during their family vacation, Mr. Browne reminds them that they should be grateful for having individual bedrooms and that selfishness is not godly. Mrs. Browne helps Carmen accept Jesus as her personal savior. Mr. Browne's employee named Snake encourages Carmen to pray daily.
Carmen's parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle, school staff, the adult relatives of Carmen's friends are presented as authority figures. Carmen's parents are depicted as leaders in their home, at the university where Mr. Browne coaches, and even to Carmen's aunt and uncle. Mr. Golf (friend Layah's father) counsels Carmen on not always getting her way, and Riana's mother encourages Carmen to allow her friends to have their chance to lead, too. Carmen's Aunt Chris does not provide a positive role model. She spends money on non-essential items before paying her household bills. Uncle Mark doesn't represent godly behavior either; he yells and argues with his wife in front of young children who are guests.
Other Belief Systems
Two examples of domestic violence. The first example is not graphic: Carmen's father simply offers a brief report on what happened to the neighbor's wife. The second example is more explicit because Carmen and her sister, Cassie, are in the house when her aunt and uncle argue loudly. When they hear glass shattering, the reader wonders what has happened, but the girls don't witness physical abuse.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Friends don't always want to talk about or do the same things.
When you are with your friends, how do you agree on how to spend your time together?
- If your friends refuse to do what you want to do, how would you change their minds?
- If you couldn't change their minds, how would it affect your friendship?
- Carmen's Aunt Chris had been saving money for a special visit with her nieces.
Why do you think Uncle Mark was so angry with her?
- Carmen considered calling the police when she heard the adults arguing.
If you were with Carmen and Cassie when they heard the adults arguing and glass shattering, how would you have reacted?
- When is domestic violence justified?
- Before Carmen became a Christian, she exhibited selfish and bossy behaviors. Her behaviors didn't change much after she became a Christian.
Why do Christians still act mean, selfish and bossy even when they have a relationship with Jesus Christ?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.