Book Review: Stand By Me

24 Mar

Sometimes the person you most need
is the one least like you.

Kathryn Davies is a bright young woman from a prominent Phoenix family. But after making a leap of faith at a Christian music fest, dropping out of med school, and moving to inner city Chicago, her family all but disowns her.

When Kat discovers SouledOut Community Church, she longs to become a part of the multicultural church family. But her tendency to immediately say whatever she’s thinking steps on the toes of nearly everyone she meets—especially Avis Douglass.

Avis has a strong faith, is the principal of one of Chicago’s highest performing elementary schools, and is a founding member of SouledOut. But the country’s economic downturn has thrown both her and her husband’s jobs in question. And Avis hasn’t heard from her youngest daughter in months an estrangement that gnaws at her every day. Where is God in this?

Kat’s flamboyant zeal for living a “radical” Christian life is a stark contrast to Avis’s more reserved faith. But in God’s timing, the two women discover they need each other in ways neither of them expected.

Born in Winchester, Kentucky, in 1944, Neta Jackson is the daughter of a Christian-school principal father and a school librarian mother. Her childhood took her from Boston, Mass., to Longview, Texas, to Seattle, Washington. She barely noticed because she always had her nose in a book – when she wasn’t drawing pictures of horses.

Her love of perfectly placed words never wavered. As a high school senior, she took the winnings from a Scholastic Magazine First Place Award for story writing and bought a typewriter. She hasn’t quit writing since.

She planned to attend Wheaton College but spent her first year in a bible college closer to home. Husband Dave said he is glad she did. That is where they met and fell in love. Neta stayed true to her dream of attending Wheaton the next year and left Dave behind, trusting that if God meant for them to be together, things would work out.

Hundreds of letters later, they were married. After two children, one foster child and grandchildren of their own, Neta and Dave enjoy one of the most successful writing partnerships ever. Their Trailblazers series and Hero Tales have stacked up such prestigious awards as the Angel Award of Merit from the Education Clearinghouse Product Review, Best Children’s Book of the Year from the CBA New Zealand and the ECPA Gold Medallion Award.

The Yada Yada Prayer Group and The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Down (Integrity Publishers, August 2004) are solo projects for Neta. The Yada Yada Prayer Group, released last year, has sold over 75,000 copies in less than six months and has been nominated for a 2004 Christy Award.

When not pounding out another great story, Neta enjoys gardening and genealogy and adores the new experience of grandparenting. She and Dave worship at the Worship Center in their hometown in Illinois.

Visit Neta’s website at

My Impressions:

Neta Jackson has taken some characters from her best-selling Yada Yada series and has begun a new book series — SouledOut Sisters.  Book one in the series, Stand By Me, features Avis, a mature and experienced Christian and impetuous new believer, Kat, a graduate student at a Chicago area Christian college.  Avis is dealing with a strained relationship with her middle daughter and really doesn’t have the time or inclination to deal with Kat’s enthusiasms.  But when Kat and three other of her classmates move into the condo downstairs from Avis, their lives become entwined, much to Avis’ chagrin.

It took me some time to get into Stand By Me.  There seemed to be a lot of repetition leading up to the real meat of the story. It wasn’t until the last 1/3 of the book that the storyline really picked up.  All in all, I enjoyed the book.  I didn’t like Avis’ character very much.  Her reactions to Kat seemed a little extreme.  But they are really not that unusual in long time Christians.  New believers can sometimes be exhausting in their desire to live for Christ.  I am speaking tongue in cheek here, but you know what I mean!  Stand By Me made me examine my own reactions to other Christians, especially those that are not just like me.

If you are looking for contemporary, women’s fiction set within the context of the modern church, Stand By Me will fit the bill.


(I received Stand By Me from B&B Media in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

One Response to “Book Review: Stand By Me”


  1. Book Review: Stand By Me « BY THE BOOK | Pulplit Magazine - March 25, 2012

    […] here to read the rest: Book Review: Stand By Me « BY THE BOOK This entry was posted in Books and tagged after-making, bright-young, davies, kathryn-davies, […]

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