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Stand by Me by Neta Jackson

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Stand by Me by Neta Jackson

Reviewed by Julia Reffner

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"Jackson has created an enjoyable read and I would not hesitate to pick up another book by this author."

The first time I heard of Neta Jackson’s Yada Yada books I was puzzled by the title. Over the years, I have frequently heard these books mentioned and decided as a women’s fiction fan I needed to find out more about this series.

Now perhaps I should have started out with the first book in the Yada Yada Prayer Group Series. I hadn’t realized that the Souled Out Sisters series, of which Stand By Me is the first installment contains many of the same characters. This fact wasn’t a hindrance to my enjoyment of this book, as the author gives enough background for the reader to understand the plotlines, yet also leaves enough intrigue that I wanted to read the other books Neta Jackson has written.

Stand By Me centers around Avis Douglass, principal of a Chicago elementary school, worship leader, and member of the Yada Yada prayer group. Prayer is an avid part of Avis’ life. I appreciated the sprinkling of verses and her frequent prayers throughout the book, although at times it appeared forced rather than a natural outgrowth of the novel.

Avis and her husband Peter are struggling with the economic downturn. Will they be able to keep their jobs?

A letter from a friend living in Africa contains an intriguing invitation, especially considering the family’s financial situation and Peter’s desire for some exciting change in his middle age years. Will Peter and Avis be heading to Africa as missionaries?

Kathryn Davies becomes a believer at a Christian music festival and transfers from her pre-med program to an educational program at a Christian college in the inner city of Chicago. “Kat” is a vegan environmentalist who speaks her mind.

Both Kathryn and Avis attend SouledOut Community Church, a multi-cultural church in a state of crisis. Avis and Kathryn couldn’t be more different. So why does God keep placing them in each other’s paths?

I found the characters in Stand By Me likeable and enjoyed reading about their adventures. My reading was somewhat distracted by the fact that I had an issue with a few events that occurred in the novel from a theological standpoint. The pace was also somewhat slower than the novels I typically read.

Jackson’s strength, however, is in developing believable and sympathetic characters. She clearly has an understanding for relationships and I appreciated watching these dynamics play out. All in all, Jackson has created an enjoyable read and I would not hesitate to pick up another book by this author.

Julia ReffnerJulia M. Reffner is blessed to be a servant to the King, married to the love of her life, a busy homeschool mom of two young children, and owned by one shedding longhaired cat. She is enjoying working on a women’s fiction novel in her spare time. She is a reviewer for Historical Novels Review quarterly, a magazine of the Historical Novel Society. Julia can be found blogging about God, literature and life at Dark Glass Ponderings and about writing at the group blog, The Writer's Alley.