This second Christian-school-life book in the "Payton Skky" series by Stephanie Perry Moore is published by Moody Publishers.
Sober Faith is written for kids ages 10 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Payton Skky explains the challenges, choices and character-building experiences of her senior year in high school, which includes exposure to issues, such as alcohol and drug abuse, premarital sex and the consequences of lying. Her black, middle-class, Christian home and community environment provide a backdrop that reinforces the difference between what's right and wrong. Payton struggles with recognizing and sometimes giving in to her own curiosity and temptations while trying to stop judging her friends who don't share her commitment to Christian beliefs. Toward the end of the book and after a friend attempts suicide, Payton seeks spiritual counseling from a church youth group leader and chooses to be transparent with her friends and classmates. She admits that she is tempted just as they are, but she depends on God to help her every day.
Payton, her family, boyfriend and friends are Christians. Payton's boyfriend, Tad, is more mature in his Christian walk than Payton, and Payton is more committed to her walk than her girlfriends. Her family prays at mealtimes, and she frequently asks God for direction. When a friend attempts suicide, Payton and her other friends pray. The friend survives. Payton describes an initial anger with God, but her surviving friend points out that God did help her, and they give God the credit when the friend walks again after being temporarily paralyzed. Payton's boyfriend introduces the concept of discipleship, and Payton seeks spiritual counseling from a church youth group leader. At her class baccalaureate, Payton is asked by her pastor to speak to her classmates. She encourages them to depend on God completely.
Payton's parents remind her of their expectations and discipline her when she behaves inappropriately. At the beginning of the book, Payton allows her friends to have a party at her home without her parents present. Her friends drink liquor and trash the house. Payton's parents express their disappointment, remind her of house rules, ban her from seeing her boyfriend, take her cell phone and ground her. The high school teachers and administrators are fair at school. When Payton visits her boyfriend's school, an administrator recognizes that she is not a student at the school and explains that she has to leave the campus.
Other Belief Systems
Several opportunities for and references to heavy petting and the possibility of premarital sex are described in the book. At the party at Payton's house, two of her friends are found on her parents' bed in a compromising position but with their clothes still on. At a spring break beach party, the boyfriend of one of Payton's friends starts kissing another girl and says he needs to get his groove on.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- After Payton witnesses her friends drinking she is more concerned about her parents' reaction than about the condition and safety of her friends.
What is the legal age for drinking alcohol?
How would you have responded?
- Alcohol advertising campaigns sometimes refer to responsible drinking.
What does that mean?
- During spring break, Payton's friends call her Miss High-and-Mighty. Payton is upset when she observes her friends' behaviors, which includes one of them drinking and smoking marijuana with her boyfriend, and one of them drinking and entering a wet T-shirt contest after being dumped by her boyfriend.
How would you approach your friends if you observed them participating in dangerous or irresponsible activities?
How would you try to stop them?
- Payton's friend Lynzi seems to have lots of good things going for her, but she still tries to commit suicide.
What makes a girl like Lynzi feel her only choice is to end her life?
- Payton's boyfriend appears to be a mature, young, Christian man. After attending Tad's prom, Tad and Payton go to a secluded spot and begin kissing passionately. Payton eventually stops him.
What circumstances led to Payton and Tad's passion getting out of hand?
When and where should unmarried couples spend time alone?
- What does the Bible say about physical intimacy?
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.