Monday, May 12, 2008
Sincerely, Mayla is Virginia Smith's sequel to her novel, Just As I Am where readers are introduced to quirky, independent Mayla Strong. I wish I'd read that one first, because I get the feeling that knowing the pre-conversion, purple-haired Mayla of Just As I Am would have made me appreciate even more the challenges and changes she goes through in this sequel. Yet Sincerely, Mayla is written well enough to allow it to stand on its own.
Mayla is a single (and unattached) young gal whose life is thrown a curve ball when she loses her office job to her boss's associate-degreed niece...but not without receiving a severance package. At her roommate's suggestion Mayla uses the extra funds and freedom to pay a visit to her estranged grandmother and aunt in Florida. And she leaves behind more than just a job search, but also a stray rabbit that irritates her roommate, an embarrassing crush on her once-oblivious pastor, and a strangely stressed friendship with her gay neighbor. Or at least she thinks she's left these behind. Instead these problems and more find her in Florida.
Mayla is a very real character who handles some of the big issues of our times with both compassion and faith. Yet she also stumbles along and makes mistakes. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was watching Mayla come to grips with her own sinful habits and seeing her deal with them in ways that are true to life and not holier-than-though or otherwise oversimplified.
The only thing this book could have done differently would have been to make me worry more. There were one or two hints at what the outcomes of some of the problems would be that stood out too much. A "smile playing at the edges of her mouth" after a big fight told me it would all be fine. I didn't want to know that. I would have preferred to worry a bit longer about whether things would be okay.
The grit and quirkiness of Mayla's character propels the story along and makes Sincerely, Mayla an enjoyable book. So put it on your summer reading list. And then hope that Ginny Smith will bring us another episode in Mayla's life. As for me, I'm off to find a copy of Just As I Am.