This first drama book in the "Carmen Browne" series by Stephanie Perry Moore is published by Moody Publishers and is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Ten-year-old Carmen Browne isn't happy about her dad's decision to take a new job out of town. Though she experienced some racial prejudice at her prior school for being black, some kids at her new school accuse her of acting "too white." Carmen tries to set a godly example for the class bully, Layah, but then Carmen turns against her best friend, Riana, in an effort to gain peer approval. Carmen also struggles when her family reveals that her older brother was adopted, and then she's forced to come to some personal conclusions about affirmative action as she does a school project. In the end, her faith in God helps her to find clarity and wisdom concerning her relationships, choices and behavior.
Carmen comes from a strong Christian family. She prays often concerning the daily struggles she faces. Her friend Riana is also a Christian; both girls attend Zion Hill Baptist Church. Although Carmen doesn't initially make the best choices, she's strongly guided by her faith in God and eventually returns to the path she knows is right. Carmen's and Riana's efforts to be Christlike to Layah result in the bully opening up about her past and starting to show kindness to others.
Carmen's firm but loving parents instill Christian values into their children at every turn. Dad admits to "pushing a little hard" sometimes, especially in his efforts to get his adopted son interested in his favorite activities. But his gracious character shows itself in his treatment of the team he coaches and his willingness to give money to a beggar. Both parents have a heart for adoption and chose to bring Clay into their family even though they were physically able to conceive more children. Mom quotes Scripture, lectures on watching R-rated movies and urges Carmen to go out of her way to be kind to the school bully. At Thanksgiving, other loving family members share opinions about affirmative action for Carmen to include in her research paper.
Other Belief Systems
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- It turns out that Layah was mean to others because she was hurting. Do you know people who treat others badly? Could it be because they have struggles of their own they're afraid to share? How can you be a friend to a person like that?
- Can you think of a time when your sense of direction got "blurry"? How did you get back into focus?
- What did you learn about racial prejudice from True Friends?
- Do you ever see people being treated differently at your school because of their skin color?
- Carmen often felt blessed to have Riana in her life. Why is it important to have a good friend who shares your belief in God?
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.