Monday, September 3, 2012

"Sketchy Behavior" by Erynn Mangum

Age: Young Adult
Genre: Fiction, suspense

Sixteen-year-old Kate Carter feels her life in the small town of South Woodhaven Falls is anything but exciting. She’s not involved in any groups at school or otherwise and she’s sworn off dating following an experience she labels “Do Not Speak of Ever Ever Ever.” When she’s not doing homework, she spends her free time drawing in her sketchbook and watching the E! channel with her best (and really only) friend, Maddy. But something is bound to happen to throw some excitement into her life, and it comes from an unexpected assignment for her art class.  A guest talks to the class about the career of Forensic Sketching, and he describes a criminal to the class. Kate uses the details the guest detective provides to compose a sketch of the criminal, only to find out later that she has drawn a very accurate portrait of a serial killer on the loose. When the killer is caught thanks to her sketch, Kate becomes a local celebrity, but she finds that attention can also bring danger. She’s soon under house arrest and followed constantly by police, who are trying to protect her from any accomplices of the now-locked-up killer. But will the police presence be enough to keep her safe? Kate begins to question what happens after death as she fears for her life, helping guide her to church for the first time in ages. In Erynn Mangum’s new book, Sketchy Behavior, the reader follows along with Kate as her life goes from boring to frightening in all too short a time.

This is the first YA Christian novel I have ever read, despite growing up Christian. I found Kate’s character to be funny and easy to relate to. She never did anything that seemed out of character for her, so I believed her as a person. I liked that the cultural references were modern and I think teens will easily relate to the language. I was expecting this book to be preachy, being unfamiliar with the genre, but was pleasantly surprised to find it was not so. The Christian elements were woven into the story and didn’t seem tacked-on. They caught me by surprise at first, however, because I’m not used to any mention of God in my fiction reading. I think this book could appeal to Christians and non-Christians alike since it’s a story of a girl searching for meaning and explanation in her life. The story moves along well and the drama should keep the reader interested. Non-Christians could relate to Kate’s search for answers while Christians may see the need to talk to others about Christ to help guide them. After all, it is through those around her being truthful about their beliefs and inviting towards Kate that she grows in closer relationship with God.

Bibliographical Information:
Mangum, Erynn. Sketchy Behavior. Zondervan, 2011.

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