A book review for parents
This contemporary fiction book is the first in the "Real TV" series by Wendy Lawton and is published by Moody Publishers.
Changing Faces is written for teens. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Brainy, heavily scheduled Olivia O'Donnell wants nothing more than to be valedictorian of her senior class. It looks promising, too — until she discovers the selection committee will consider the candidates' volunteer hours as well as grades. Though Olivia is a committed Christian, she fears she is "mercy challenged," especially when she's placed in the uncomfortable position of doing public relations for a shelter. Life becomes even more complicated when she's selected to represent the shelter on her favorite makeover reality show, Changing Faces. Meanwhile, her relationship with best friend, Jane, begins to crumble, and she faces the endless ridicule of her nemesis, Aubrey. With the help of friends at the shelter and church, Olivia begins to realize that the transformation she really needs isn't about clothes or make-up but about the state of her heart.
Olivia, her family and best friend, Jane, are all faithful Christ followers and regular church attenders. Olivia begins working at the shelter at the suggestion of her youth pastor's wife, and the friends she makes there (Carter and Mia) have a faith in God as well. Olivia struggles throughout the book to maintain a quiet time with God in the midst of her chaotic schedule. Toward the end, she writes down verses and keeps them with her to remain focused on God's direction. With God's help, she also changes her attitude toward the "down-and-out" people living at the shelter and her rival, Aubrey.
Olivia's parents insist the family eats together to stay connected, and they encourage her to maintain her devotional time. Olivia's mother accompanies her to the taping of Changing Faces, and the two women share fun, memorable moments. Diane, the youth pastor's wife, remains courageous and encouraging throughout her battle with breast cancer. Olivia's teacher, Mrs. Brenner, also urges Olivia to make her quiet time a priority, and she helps Jane, Olivia and Aubrey iron out the differences that have been tearing them apart. The only negative authority figure is Carlos, Mia's step-father. Wanted for murder and other illegal activities, he tracks Mia's family down at the shelter with a gun; he intends to harm them.
Other Belief Systems
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- As Olivia and Jane try to rebuild their friendship, Jane says that just listening to Aubrey's mean comments about Olivia (even if she didn't agree) was enough to subtly change her attitude toward Olivia.
Have you ever seen that happen — someone else's negative opinion started making you feel more negative, too?
- Has God ever put you in a position (like Olivia at the shelter) where you feel uncomfortable?
What did you learn from the experience?
- Would you ever want to be on a reality show?
If so, which one? Why?
- Have you ever dealt with a bully, or someone who was jealous of you, the way Olivia has to deal with Aubrey?
How did you handle it?
- Do you ever feel, like Olivia, that you could be "mercy challenged" or that your desire for personal gain is stronger than your desire to help others?
What could you do to change that?
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.