By: Darlene Laney
Publisher: Halo Publishing International
Publication Date: May 2014
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: May 2014
Young girls today are facing an amazing onslaught of pressure to be super cool, wear the 'right' clothes, look like the Hollywood ideal, and grow up much too fast. Whether coming from peers or the media, this pressure is intense and many tweens and teens are unable to deal with the pressure. That's where author Darlene Laney, and her 'God Squad' of six awesome girls come in - through the experiences of these youngsters, readers will get ideas on how to cope.
As the story opens, we meet six young ladies - Mia (who helps tell the story), Chris, Angel, Eve, Sadie and Jade. These friends go to Carver Preparatory School and range in age from 12 to 15. All six of these main characters had some "issues" in the past, dealing with body image, and how they saw a distorted view of themselves. Thanks to the efforts of their mentor, and counselor, Ms. Foster, they have learned that they are all special, and of their Heavenly Father's unconditional love. The girls still meet regularly with Ms. Foster in a place they call their 'Sanctuary,' and discuss issues important to them all. They have also dubbed their group the 'God Squad' and with Ms. Foster's help, and their official roles as peer mentors, the girls are eager to reach out to others who have distorted images of themselves.
One day Ms. Foster calls a meeting of the God Squad to discuss another student at Carver Prep who needs their help. Kelsey Blake is somebody who has problems that just might spin out of control. Mia is the first one to talk with Kelsey, and it's in a rather unexpected place. When Mia checks a restroom before class to make sure no girls are hanging around, planning on skipping class, she comes upon a girl hidden in one of the stalls, throwing up. Mia doesn't realize it's Kelsey, but as a peer mentor, she knows it is important to get this girl to the nurse's office.
Kelsey is a girl who hangs with the popular kids. She wears the latest fashions, slathers tons of makeup on her face, dyes her hair and has even had a little cosmetic surgery. She doesn't get along with her mother and as the members of the God Squad soon discover, truly has a low self-image. The girls have their work cut out for them!
Mia and her friends eventually convince Kelsey to have lunch at their table, although Kelsey's popular friends, led by the unlikeable Eva, warn her to stay away from the 'Jesus Freaks.' Fortunately, the power of prayer, and God's eternal love, win out over the negativity of Eva. However, old habits are hard to break and when a Bible study session goes awry, Kelsey runs back to her old friends. The God Squad gang is devastated, but they have to put their fears aside, and use the power of prayer to help Kelsey when she follows Eva into a really bad situation.
The author, Darlene Laney, who found a new life, a new purpose, and a new calling when she found Christ Jesus, wants to share her message with young girls. With a master's degree in Education-Counseling, she has put her knowledge to work by counseling tweens and teens. Laney has put together a 'Color Me Beautiful Etiquette and Social Skills Development Program,' (see www.darlenelaney.com for more information), to help girls improve their self-esteem. Sometimes however, the best way to reach a young girl is via a book where the reader can see other kids in similar circumstances work to resolve their problems. Mia and the other girls at Carver Preparatory certainly have their problems and Laney does a wonderful job of showing readers what can happen through the power of prayer, love, friendship, and most importantly, faith in our Lord Jesus. To quote Eve, "God don't make no junk!" and this book helps youngsters realize that "God made them with a specific purpose in mind."
Quill says: Good kids, sharing God's message of love and acceptance, make this book a winner.
For more information on The God Squad in an Episode of Misson Him-Possible the Distorted Mirror, please visit the author's website at: www.darlenelaney.com
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