Have you ever had that situation where you were reading a book and you find yourself just plain irked with the characters? I mean they were really getting under my skin, their choices, what they say, how they are treating the people in their lives, etc. As I started reading Stand by Me by Neta Jackson I gotta say, I was feeling a little irked.
If you have read any of the other novels by Neta Jackson , then you will see yourself once again returning to Chicago and once again you will see some of her Yaya Yada prayer group characters in this novel, mainly Avis Douglass and her husband Peter as the novel opens with them celebrating their 6th anniversary. Sadly Avis’ daughter Rochelle is in a tough spot as she tries to make things work in her life, a single mom, HIV positive, an abusive ex-husband, and now she has lost another job and shown up on her Mother and Step-Father’s doorstep once again. Peter takes a stand and recommends using tough love with Rochelle in not letting her stay with them indefinitely. But the rub is that Rochelle has Conny- Avis’ 6 year old Grandson in tow, so poor Avis is conflicted in what the right thing to do is. Rochelle leaves with Conny and no word and no contact.
Enter in Kat Davies, a college student who is new to the Souled Out Community church that Avis and Peter are long time members and leaders of as well. Kat saunters in one Sunday with many friends in tow and sort of plops herself among them rather like a bull in a china shop. She is so eager to make a difference in an Urban experience program that she sometimes fails to see the people and their real needs. One of her counselors at her college urged her to “talk less and listen more” which she got a little bit better at as the book went on, but it was a real struggle for her. She is a relatively new Christian with lots of zeal but little discernment.
Kat and friends end up renting an apartment below the Douglass’ and Kat proceeds to rub Avis the wrong way again and again. This is where the irksome moments come into play as I kept getting mad at these characters for how they were treating each other, Avis’ constant irritation with Kat, Kat’s impulsiveness and tendency to run off at the mouth, Avis’ daughter continually shying away from getting help, etc. But as the story played out, as the character’s were honest with each other, etc. I realized that all this frustration with these characters was a good thing as it revealed to me that these characters read as real people. They all had their own inward motivations as to why they responded as they did and Neta Jackson does a great job with this storyline in making you really connect and care about these characters. I was irked because I really wanted the best for them. You see people are rarely what we take them as at face value, in that there is usually a lot going on and if we take the time to stop, care, listen and truly find out what their needs are, then amazing relationships are formed and especially with those people that we maybe didn’t like at first.
Great read! 4 stars
A free copy of this book was provided for me through the Booksneeze program through Thomas Nelson. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.