Book Review: The Yada Yada Prayer Group

18 10 2007

The Yada Yada Prayer Group
by Neta Jackson

      I’m not really into “women’s” novels, especially “Circle of Friends” novels.  Usually they’re a little cheesy, a little ditzy, and they imply that female friendships will be your salvation from all of life’s disasters.

Right.

       Despite my dislike of the genre, I enjoyed this book.  Largely, I think, because the women in it were more real than the general run of “friends” characters.  They spoke like real people, in a variety of dialects, and they reacted like real people.  They were accidentally rude.  They spoke without thinking.  They complained about the food, dressed up, dressed down, talked about their kids, pets, husbands, etc. like women I have met.  My favorite character was Adele who was painfully blunt and didn’t have a lot of patience with nonsense. 
       More than anything else, they were having real life problems.  Not dorky problems. 
       Ok, on the bad side, the book implied that everything was easily resolved by believing prayer.  It has been my experience that, although God answers prayer, he isn’t in a big hurry about it.  He tends to work us through a lot of painful self-knowledge lessons before he grants the prayer, and he frequently responds to my prayers with that hollow silence that means, “I am ignoring this particular prayer, my dear daughter, for your own good.”
        I also didn’t like some of the implications that black spirituality was better than white spirituality.  In our God-starved nation, I think any spirituality is a valuable thing!  Like water found in a desert, perhaps we shouldn’t be too critical about its pedigree.  Although I do agree with the author that in my limited experience black churches (and black women in particular) seem to be louder and less self-concious about their worship. 
        I liked the way issues of race between the women were handled.  It seemed like a realistic portrayal of some of the tensions that have to be dealt with in interracial and, um, interfinancial (?) churches.  I recognized several kinds of people I’ve met in our church in the women of this book.  Including the Messianic Jew!
        It left me with some questions: would it really be that simple to forge friendships among such dissimilar people?  Would it really be that easy to get out of a manslaughter charge?  Is Joni ever going to talk to her husband about her history with drink?  Or is she just going to dither and yell for the rest of her life?  And why don’t we have a Jewish pastry shop in our town?  It sounded wonderful.
       Overall impression: I’m up for the next book. 

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