This teen girls' fiction book in "The Pathway Collection" by Michelle Buckman is published by Think Books, an imprint of NavPress.
Maggie Come Lately is written for kids ages 16 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Maggie was four when her mother committed suicide; in the 12 years since, Maggie has cared for her dad and younger brothers, Tony and Billy. On her 16th birthday, she wishes for change: she prays for popularity, a boyfriend, and other good things to happen for her. Instead, she finds a classmate's beaten and raped body, comes to blows repeatedly with Dad's new girlfriend, Andrea, and learns that a neighbor has been abusing Billy. The trying times force Maggie to think through her own beliefs, particularly about sex. She ultimately discovers that God has put her in these situations so she can help others.
A number of characters, including Maggie, her dad, Andrea, Maggie's friend Dixie and Dixie's mom, attend church and discuss their faith. Maggie says short prayers in the midst of her struggles, asking for help and purpose in her life. Maggie's brother, Tony, attends church against his will and seems to be struggling with his identity in general. Andrea and a teacher tell Maggie God allowed her to find Sue (the rape victim) so she could help the girl and send a message to others.
Maggie's dad has been a loving provider for the family since his wife's suicide, though he's left the domestic duties to Maggie. He has trouble standing up to Andrea and has secret concerns about Maggie (who is the same age his wife was when she got pregnant out of wedlock). Mrs. Chambers, the mother of Maggie's friend Dixie, is easy to talk to and serves as Maggie's advisor; she even speaks to Dad on Maggie's behalf when Maggie doesn't know how to voice her concerns about Andrea. Mr. Dweller, whom everyone considers a kind-hearted youth helper at church, takes advantage of Billy's trust and sexually abuses him. One of Maggie's teachers makes it clear to the administration that she'll quit if they stop her from talking about her faith.
Other Belief Systems
Mrs. Chambers has a charming way about her that helps her get what she wants from people. Maggie calls it her "pixie magic."
There is one use of the word pissed.
Maggie's classmate is raped and her brother is abused, though no graphic details are provided. Maggie, her friends and even friends' parents have discussions about cleavage and "boobs." A boy Maggie dates puts his hand under her bra and she slaps him. Maggie talks with other characters about her concerns that sex – not friendship – seems to be at the forefront of dating relationships with kids her age.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Do you think God has ever allowed you to go through a difficult situation so you could help someone else later on? Tell me about that.
- What did Maggie ultimately discover about popularity?
Suicide: Maggie's depressed mother kills herself.
Rape: Maggie finds her classmate, Sue, raped and beaten and wonders if it could happen to her.
Abuse: Maggie's younger brother, Billy, is abused by the father of one of his friends.
Teen drinking and drug use: Maggie goes to a party and has a beer because someone hands it to her. Others are drinking and some are smoking joints.
Premarital sex: Maggie is frustrated that sex, not love or companionship, seem to be the cornerstone of her classmates' relationships. She ponders the issue frequently, and she wants more for herself than a shallow fling.
Modesty: Maggie has some concerns about wearing a new shirt because she's afraid it shows too much cleavage. Dad's girlfriend, Andrea, says it's OK to be proud of the body God gave you. Andrea, a rape counselor, notes that no one "asks" to be raped by wearing certain types of clothing.
Parents dating/blended families: Maggie's life is thrown off when her father starts dating a take-charge woman who tries to run the house before even becoming a member of the family. Maggie struggles to be kind to her for her father's sake but not let this woman run them all over.
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.