If You Really Knew Me is a book for youngsters, sharing the story of a bunch of middle school kids. The person that combines them is Anna-Marie Valles, a youth worker who tries the reach the children with the gospel.
Alison Cheah, the author, has done a wonderful job in sharing Anna-Marie’s story. Anna-Marie is a youth worker Alison met and she has brought aspects of her work to the front in this book. Alison says that she has always enjoyed Patricia St John’s books and how the Gospel was always such a large part of those books. I enjoy those too and found If You Really Knew Me to be very similar.
There are several characters in the book and soon their lives start to intertwine. There is Tommy, whose father is ill, which makes him unpredictable. Any moment his anger may flare up and the family tiptoes around him to avoid becoming a target. The father struggles with anger, portraying God as an angry God as well.
Carrie has secrets that she doesn’t want others to know. I found her character especially moving, having adopted via the foster system. Carrie’s fears become too great and she makes some foolish decisions, but when she experiences God’s love through others, she changes so much that Tommy has to keep looking at her.
Elise and her twin sister Rebecca do everything together but Elise starts to struggle when Anna-Marie asks her if she wants to live in Rebecca’s shadow all her life. I loved how Anna-Marie pointed out how different the disciples were, yet Jesus never asked them to all become the same kind of person.
If You Really Knew Me is such a lovely book, showing children about kindness and friendship as well as how people can wear a mask. I loved the song Carrie and Elise made, talking about dropping the mask and being accepted for who you are. If You Really Knew Me deals with some serious issues as well but in a warm way. Tommy’s father especially is an interesting character, showing his anger but working on that once he nearly loses Tommy.
If You Really Knew Me shows how there are different perspectives to life, where our presuppositions can cloud our decision-making or our judgments. Anna-Marie, the youth worker, gently challenges the children, and constantly points them back to Christ. I loved her kindness and openness, her ability to just listen and be there for the children.
If You Really Knew Me is a warm and wonderful book, although it might be triggering for children who are dealing with those issues. Alison has written a fast-paced, interesting book, that will lead to lots of questions and discussions as well, as some of the characters might give your child an opening to talk about fears and burdens.
I received a review copy via Celebrate Lit but was under no pressure or obligation to write a favourable review. As always, there is a giveaway (US Only!).
To celebrate her tour, Alison is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
Here are the Blog Stops:
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 13
Locks, Hooks and Books, May 14
Texas Book-aholic, May 15
Beauty in the Binding, May 16 (Author Interview)
Blogging With Carol, May 16
For Him and My Family, May 17
Inklings and notions, May 18
Blossoms and Blessings, May 19 (Author Interview)
deb’s Book Review, May 20
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 21
Simple Harvest Reads, May 23 (Author Interview)
Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 24
Guild Master, May 26 (Author Interview)