From its intriguing title to its quirky cover showing a girl peering over a newspaper, Asking
for Trouble is a fun novel for teen girls. For us parents, it's a Christian version of the 80s TV show Square
Pegs crossed with Disney's Princess Diaries movies. Fifteen-year-old Savvy Smith must leave school and church friends behind when her family moves to London. Fitting in at Wexburg Academy proves to be especially challenging for a girl from the States who talks and dresses differently from her classmates and who always seems to find trouble unintentionally. After trying a number of clubs and activities, she notices a help wanted ad for The Wexburg Academy Times. She throws herself into this new opportunity, confident that success at the school newspaper means success for her in all areas of Wexburg Academy. The plot has twists and turns, much like a teenager's diary would.
Asking for Trouble is written in the first person, so the voice is fun to follow in its short chapters. Savvy is confident, then shy; able, then discouraged; mature, then foolish; smooth, then clumsy. Perhaps the most basic theme is that she was lost at the beginning, in a new home and new school, with no new church yet. By the end, she has found her place and her groove, and her family has found a new church home.
Asking for Trouble would be a terrific casual summer read for a teenage girl (and perhaps her mom). It could be used in a book club, particularly in a Christian youth group setting. There are natural questions to ask such as "What would you have done in that situation?" or "Did Savvy follow her desires or God's will?" There are situations in Savvy's life that most girls will relate to, opening the door for discussions of teenage life, potential choices that will need to be made, and how to handle them as a Christian. In addition, Asking for Trouble just might inspire readers to write a story about their lives or to explore their options in journalism.
Pros: Asking for Trouble is a fun, safe story for teen girls. It has no fantasy, vulgarity, or outrageous behavior. It's an honest, inside look at the world of a teenager trying to grow up. The humor and candid self-analysis were entertaining and enlightening. The use of Scripture and examinations of Christian life were positive elements as well.
Cons: I doubt that boys will enjoy this coming-of-age novel as well as girls. Its voice of a teenage girl can become cumbersome to adults as well, but I doubt the book's target audience will notice.
I am sure my 13-year old daughter will enjoy Asking for
Trouble on her summer vacation. She may even have some of her friends read it too, because they like to discuss books, among other things!