A book review for parents
This fifth coming-of-age book in the "Becoming Beka" series by Sarah Anne Sumpolec is published by Moody Publishers.
The Encore is written for kids 13 to 18. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Returning from winter break, Beka finds herself in the principal's office for the song she wrote and performed for the holiday concert. Mr. T, her teacher, defends her right to express herself through music and protests the administration's interference with his music program. The principal relents.
Josh, in college, writes to Beka and wants his friendship with her to continue. Another boy, Mark, calls himself her boyfriend. Beka enjoys being around Mark but is confused over which boy she should be in relationship with. Beka tries to watch out for Lucy, her little sister, but is no match for Mai, who influences Lucy to have sex in order to be popular and cool.
The L.A. producers want to meet with Beka after hearing her demo. Josh asks her to be his girlfriend and transfers from Seattle Pacific to Asuza Pacific in Los Angeles to be near Beka as she starts her singing career. Beka understands that everything in her life is put there by God to make her who He wants her to be. She looks forward to His plan for her life.
Beka and Lori grow in their Christian faith. Beka slowly learns that she can rely on God. Because Beka's relationship with God is getting stronger, she can see that Mark's Christian walk is unfocused. Beka eventually breaks up with him. Josh's beliefs are strong. He is very vocal about believing that God will direct their relationship. He trusts God with his future.
Beka's dad is the main authority in her life. Even though work problems distract him, he is a positive role model. He cares deeply for his children and seeks God so that he will do what is best for them. Beka's principal is an example of negative authority and seems to be very angry and spiteful. Mr. T is an example of someone who takes a stand for what is right.
Other Belief Systems
Mark and Beka often kiss while dating. Beka feels like Mark is pushing her to be more physical. When Beka is at a party, she is a little disturbed by all of the kids kissing. Beka and Josh kiss a few times, but Beka knows that Josh's kisses will not lead to anything else. Beka's friend, Lori, is troubled because of her dad's problem with pornography. At one of the parties, Beka finds Lucy upset, and Lucy asks to be taken home. Lucy eventually tells Beka that she and Ethan had sex. When she told Ethan to stop, he told her that it was too late, and they ended up having sex. Beka wants Lucy to tell the police, because it sounds like Ethan raped her. Lucy doesn't see it that way and believes it was her fault. Lucy also is afraid because she thinks she might be pregnant.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Lucy is made to believe that having sex means she'll be popular. She ends up having sex and then wants nothing to do with the popular crowd.
How does your circle of friends react to pressure to have sex?
- What makes it difficult to take a stand and not become involved in premarital sex?
What can you learn from Lucy's experience?
Why do you think Lucy did not want anything to do with the popular crowd after she and Ethan had been together?
- Mai was angry with Beka and wanted Beka's job as the editor of the school newspaper.
Have you compared yourself to someone you viewed as perfect?
What did you do about your jealousy?
How did you misjudge that person?
How has someone misjudged you? What happened?
What do you wish had happened?
- How would you categorize Mark's feelings for Beka?
How did Beka feel when she saw him kissing another girl after they broke up?
How has someone you liked betrayed you?
How was your situation a blessing in disguise as this situation was for Beka?
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.