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Those Were the Days


You know what I remember most from high school? All those people that said, “These are the best days of your life!” and me thinking, “Oh, I hope not.” Let’s face it—high school is a collection of achievement, failure, disillusionment, dreaming . . . in other words, conflict. Lots of it. Back in the day, I generally escaped in the pages of a good book—usually ones about people older than I was, primarily Christian romances. Now that I’m a reviewer, I love that it’s come full circle and I’m reading books aimed at the high school crowd. How do I know when one’s truly successful? When it transports me back to Those Days.

I’ve had the honor of working with debut author Stephanie Morrill on her new release Me, Just Different. We met at the 2007 ACFW Writers Conference, where we immediately struck up a friendship based on having matching red bags. Didn’t take long for us to start emailing each other regularly, and she joined my critique group within the month. That’s when I first read the book now called Me, Just Different.

What amazed me from the start about Stephanie’s writing is that she can pick me up out of my happy home, pluck me from my young motherhood, and transport me back to the time in my life when nothing was certain and the days were equal parts hope and dread. In part, it’s because she crafts an amazing character in whose head and heart we travel the pages of the book.

Skylar Hoyt, Stephanie’s heroine, is not my kind of girl. Where I was brainy and focused and always goal-oriented, strong of faith and unwavering of conviction, Skylar is more focused on social matters, has no clue what she wants to do after leaving high school, is struggling to get back on the straight and narrow, and is not sure what she believes anymore. But somehow, I love her anyway. I love that as I travel through her travails, I can understand her pain and feel my heart twist with every new turn her life takes. It takes a truly talented author to make me identify with a character so unlike me, and Stephanie Morrill is just that.

When Stephanie is asked why she chooses to write Young Adult fiction, she inevitably says something about how those are such formative years, how they continue to have such a huge impact on her life, and how those are the books that continue to pour from her heart and mind—the ones the Lord has given her. And you know, if there were books for my age group this hard-hitting, this gritty, this real when I was in high school, I may have read more of them instead of borrowing my mom’s novels.

A mark of an excellent book is one that haunts you long after the last page, one that makes you reexamine yourself. Me, Just Different is one those—and if a book aimed at teens can make a twentysomething mom sit back and ponder who she really is, then you know it’s going to hit home with the high school crowd. I’ve never been so happy to relive Those Days of Yore that were, as I prayed, not the best of my life . . . but still such a huge part of who I turned out to be.


Check out Stephanie’s website, and be sure to read her daily blog!

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