My Beautiful Disaster by Michelle Buckman is a young adult novel that pushes the edges of relevance in the field of Christian young adult fiction, possibly beyond the limits of its genre.
As soon as popular, gorgeous Dixie first sees Vince, the lead singer of a cool new band, after sneaking into an adult venue to meet a friend, she can’t keep her mind off of him. She works almost full-time to try to hook her prized catch. However, Dixie’s new crush turns out to be a bad-news drug dealer whose mind is only on one thing. Deceived by his finesse and suave appearance, and craving the position she’d gain as Vince’s girlfriend, Dixie caves to Vince, compromising herself with few thoughts to morality or to the consequences of her actions. When Dixie realizes she’s pregnant, her sky-high dreams plummet to earth with a sickening reality check. Now she must face the reactions of her peers, her church, and her parents as she decides what to do with her life and the child now growing inside her.
I had a hard time getting through this book. I struggled with Dixie as a likable main character because I found her obnoxious. She is obsessed with clothes, boys, and music. Her friends are shallow. She makes bad, even stupid, decisions even though she knows better. It was amazing how much better I liked her after she began to deal, as an adult, with the consequences of her actions.
Because of the amount of foreshadowing Buckman uses, as a reader I could see exactly where the story was going from the beginning. It was very predictable, with no surprises or plot twists.
This book raises important questions. How far is it okay to go in the realm of a novel for today’s Christian teens? No, the book doesn’t deal graphically with the sexual aspect of the story, and, yes, these are issues and choices that, unfortunately, are being faced by today’s teenagers. In a way, this makes the book very touching in its realism. However, especially for a Christian YA novel, this realism goes a little too far. I am not sure that following Dixie’s thought processes, even toward her redemption, is a good thing. And is it possible to attain cultural relevance for teenagers without stooping to the language level of its secular counterparts? This book frequently uses crude language used in insulting ways and even in general conversation.
On the positive side, My Beautiful Disaster makes a very realistic case for abstinence. By watching Dixie make mistakes, the reader understands that momentary gratification is not the important part of a relationship, and that sex can have effects that change everything. Dixie makes very bad choices, and then her life is permanently changed by the consequences. However, a clichéd plot and one-dimensional characters and rough handling of sensitive subject matter make it a difficult book to enjoy. Good message or no, it’s probably not really worth the pain to get there. -- Lyndi Markus, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Dixie Chambers is an average high school girl who's just been granted access into the popular crowd. Sucked into a world that resembles one big party, Dixie falls into an intimate relationship with local rock star Vince Evans. But as his nice-guy facade begins to slip, she discovers that Vince is a better actor than musician.
Making matters much worse, Dixie learns that she's pregnant. Terrified of her family's response, and fearful of what her friends will think, she faces a tough decision that will change her life forever.
Author Michelle Buckman offers an edgy, realistic story for teen girls that honestly explores challenging issues facing today's youth. Buckman balances tough themes with the hope found in God alone, leading readers to embrace their faith in everyday life. A Beautiful Disaster is the latest release in the Pathway Collection.