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Making It Real by T. Suzanne Eller

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Review of Making It Real

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The Advocate

Making It Real
by T. Suzanne Eller

Reviewed by Carol Kurtz

"A top notch read for teens who are serious about God and for those who want to be."

Marcia is heart broken over her best friend. They used to be so close, praying for each other, encouraging each other, prodding each other. Now her friend won’t even talk to her. She has decided she doesn’t want to be a Christian anymore. What should Marcia do?

Another name for “Making It Real” could be “Where the Rubber Meets the Road for Young Adults”. In easy, conversational tone it tells the true stories of teens struggling to stay close to God amidst the temptations and distractions of their world. It doesn’t patronize or talk down to them in a prudish way, but meets the level of sophistication young adults now have.

Like Matthew, who envies his friend Kris. Kris’ dad is a youth pastor, while Matthew’s dad has just gotten out of prison. His efforts to share God with his father are shot down with anger, and now Matthew’s begun to resent Kris for what he has. Can God take away his jealousy?

Talk about problems. King David was trapped in a web of lies and lust, and he knew what he was doing was wrong. Even though he got the girl in the end, can he ever get right with God again? This is how seamlessly Eller weaves the Bible into the real life stories throughout the book. Suddenly, these guys in the Bible are just like us, dealing with the same timeless issues teens face daily.

Each chapter begins with a quote from a random teen, like a blog entry or a poem: “I found a kitten and it was cold and dying. I warmed it up and it survived. Last night I was laying on my bed with the little lucky kitten on my chest. I thought that what happened to the kitten is what happened to us. Jesus picked us up out of the coldness of sin and warmed us up to God’s love.” At the end of each chapter are several “devos”, applications which make the topic relevant to the realities of day to day life. There are “heart check” blurbs in little grey boxes throughout, which are clear and concise, almost proverb-like: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions about God and your faith.” At the end of the book is a journal space to write thoughts about each section.

Many of the situations occur in a youth group setting. Like Erin, who’s making her first visit home since going away to college. She visits her youth group and is faced with a video of her when she was on fire for God. She is horrified at how far she has strayed in such a short time without any fellowship. But now she knows she must find some at school. It’s wonderful to have such common pitfalls explained to teens in a practical how-to way so they can avoid them. Issues like fear of public speaking, self esteem, sin, parents, missions trips, peer pressure, and living through unexplained tragedies are explored.

Tate is a track star. But after being hit by a drunk driver, he may never run again. “When he let go, he took the hand of God and talked to him about his confusion ... He thought he trusted God before, but it was easy because things were going his way.”

Not as in-your-face as a Lookadoo book, Making it Real lets the stories engage you, and the book is hard to put down. Each entry is short enough to keep up with today’s abbreviated attention span, and it’s interactive without being a workbook. A top notch read for teens who are serious about God and for those who want to be.

Carol Kurtz Darlington is a certified personal trainer and a certified group fitness instructor who works with people who want to lose weight as well as those who just want to enjoy better health. She enjoys empowering and encouraging others to reach their health and fitness goals, feel better about themselves in the process, and enjoy more energy to stay active in all areas of their lives. She is the founder of Totally Fit With Carol, a Christian weight loss website featuring workout videos, health tips, exercise advice, and more. She loves her morning cappuccino and her beloved grand-dog. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and haunting Starbucks.