I am a fan of Mary Mary (Erica and Tina Campbell). I saw them perform in Washington D.C. upon the release of their first album, and have always admired their fearless, classy portrayal of the God in them. I knew this book was geared for young people, but I am writing a book for teen girls so I decided to check out Be U to see if there was anything that prompted me to write on another subject, or see if there was anything I left out of my work. Although I enjoyed the book overall, as it contained a lot of spiritual reminders, unfortunately, I also discovered some things that I thought the Campbell sisters left out.
First, let me say that this book is very easy to read for all ages. It has the format of a devotional, with a page of scripture, a page and half that is a message from one of the sisters, and then 3-4 pages of questions and space for answers (like a journal). The sisters cleverly use their song titles for their chapter themes. The messages don’t go into a lot of depth—they are brief enough to read quickly, but get the point across.
The most touching and powerful anecdotes were those of Erica’s husband overcoming cancer, and Tina dealing with having to leave her preemie daughter in the hospital for almost a month until she could come home (that had to seem like forever!). However, I don’t know if young people can really relate to such stories. I thought some “youth-friendly” stories were missing, and I’m sure Erica & Tina had some, as they come from a big family.
I saw Tina on The Mo’Nique Show to promote this book, and have heard both sisters on radio interviews too—they are always on point. But I wish the Q&A chapter had more questions about practical, youth-friendly issues. From an editorial standpoint, I noticed a few typos in this chapter as well (not to be picky, but I’m a technical writer–I can’t help but notice these things).
Something else that is very important is missing from this book—how to invite Jesus to become your personal Lord and Savior. I think this book assumes that every young person who picks it up is “churched” and understands terms like “grace” and so on. Be U is a nice overview for youth who want to or need to begin developing a personal quiet time of devotion with God. I hope this book plants a seed that will make them want to stay connected to God and commit to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.