Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review - Penny Wise


Penny Wise introduces us to yet another family in "the neighborhood"---the Jaspers, busy with demanding jobs, busy with church, busy volunteering, parents of three active teenagers, juggling sometimes crazy schedules. All good things. Until all those "good things" feed into a series of crises that affects the whole family. Something's gotta change!

The third in the Windy City Neighbors series, Penny Wise is a contemporary peek at an urban family wrestling with the spiritual and practical challenges of real life. The series employs the innovating storytelling technique of "parallel novels," each with its own drama and story arc, but whose characters' lives become intertwined with their neighbors and affect one another. Welcome to Beecham Street---a typical, isolated American neighborhood that is beginning to come out of its shell . . . for better or worse.


Dave and Neta Jackson are award-winning authors living in the Chicago area where their parallel novels from the Yada Yada House of Hope and Harry Bentley series are set. As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books.

Find Neta and Dave online: website

 I have always been a huge fan of Neta Jackson and just devoured the Yada Yada Prayer Group books. I always felt such a connection with her characters and loved the way she talked about serious issues, yet always brought humor into her books. Unfortunately, since she started writing with her husband, a lot of the things I loved about her books have disappeared.

This book is about a family that is so busy doing for others, they really don't have time for each other. Michelle is a case-worker trying to help families that need help and children who are in bad situations. She also heads up a women's group at her church as well as a group to help women who have had abortions and are struggling with their decision. She and her husband, Jared, have three children - a teenage boy and twins, a boy and a girl. Jared is a deacon in their church as well as being an air traffic controller with a crazy schedule.

There are some characters in the book from the Yada Yada Prayer group books and it was nice to revisit them. Michelle and Jared are neighbors of Estelle and Harry, from those books, and I just have always loved those characters.

What I liked about the book - the fact that this was a family that was working hard to show their children godly parenting and love. I liked that this was a family that wasn't falling apart from within with any real serious issues. I also loved the part of the book that the title is from - the pennies and how they showed up in the story. This just brought a lump to my throat. The last 3 chapters of the book were great and I liked the ending of the story.

What I didn't like about the book - I have no interest or desire to know that the characters are going to have sex (there are no explicit scenes, but still...) or that Michelle uses a diaphram and that she's about ready to put it in place. I found the endless details very boring...I don't care what they eat for breakfast or dinner every day! There were endless boring details like this that just made you want to turn the page in hopes you could skip all this. There is very little of Neta's writing shining through and I could tell her sections of the book from Dave's. They write completely different about the characters and it showed, to me at least.

I had read the last book they did together and really didn't like it, but when this book came up for review, I was hoping that the writing style would return to what it was when Neta wrote alone, but alas, this book was even less enthralling than the last book I read by them. Personally, I hope that Neta will write alone again. I'm sure Dave's a good writer, but this is not his genre and it really shows. I can only give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me for my honest review by LitFuse Publicity Group

Blessings - Julie

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