Monday, 18 May 2009

Yada Yada!

I keyadayada1pt coming across blog references to the Yada Yada Prayer Group books,  and mentioned it to Kathryn, our youngest deacon. She and her husband Paul are well up on Christian Novels from the USA.

Sure enough, she had books 1,2 3, 4 [and has just got 5 & 6 I think!] so she lent me 1&2 last Sunday.

I'm not 100% sure what I thought of them.  The blurb on the website says

"What do an ex-con, a former drug addict, a real estate broker, a college student, and a married mother of two have in common?Nothing, or so Jodi Baxter thought. Who would have imagined that God would make a group as mismatched as that the closest of friends? “I almost didn’t even go to the Chicago Women’s Conference—after all, being thrown together with five hundred strangers wasn’t exactly my ‘comfort zone.’ But I would be rooming with my boss, Avis, and I hoped that maybe I might make a friend or two. We... were assigned to a prayer group of twelve women at the conference - there was Flo, an outspoken ex-drug addict; Ruth, a Messianic Jew who could smother-mother you to death; and Yo-Yo, an ex-con who wasn’t even a Christian! Not to mention women from Jamaica, Honduras, South Africa—practically a mini-United nations. We certainly didn’t have much in common. But something happened that weekend to make us realize we had to hang together. So ‘the Yada Yada Prayer Group’ decided to keep praying for each other via e-mail. That worked for a while, but our personal struggles and requests soon got too intense for cyberspace, so we decided to meet together every other Sunday night."

yadayada2 And books 1 and 2 describe the experiences of the women in the group. They are set in Chicago, and so there are a lot of US cultural references which aren't always easy for a Brit to follow.  No Steph, it isn't a rip-off of the YaYa Sisterhood, as we both suspected it might be. But it isn't 'great literature' either. I got through the two novels - around 800 pages very quickly. I'm not a big fan of 'chick-lit' - and I did get the feeling that maybe Neta Jackson churns out book after book just a little too quickly. Some of the characters seem rather stereotypical. The chief protagonist's mother ELR Pat was definitely based on Amy's mother Pat from "Everybody Loves Raymond"!!

However, in many ways the book does give a good picture of the life of a women's prayer group - and challenges the reader's perceptions about acceptance and inclusivity.

I belong to a cyberspace prayer group and it is great - we are all very different women from all over the world, facing many of the issues addressed in the books - and the friendship/prayer support is important to us. But these are not the only friends I have.

I think 'church' in the States is different from over here - I was concerned that Jodi appeared to have spent her entire life surrounded by Christians and had belonged to various churches - but never really seemed to form a close relationship with anybody until she got into the Y-Y thing, and she was suddenly able to drop everything else and support these women through life-and-death scenarios. What happened to the friends she'd had before?

But hey, these books are selling in their millions, so somebody out there must be getting a blessing from them [and I don't just mean the author's royalties] - and I believe passionately in the value of prayer, and if more women are praying because of reading these books, then Hallelujah!

I didn't get on with Harry Potter or Catherine Cookson either - but they fill the shelves of the Public Libraries. If Kathryn lends me the other Y-Y maybe I will start to appreciate them more!


  1. This is one I've never heard of. But I wonder if you have read Jan Karon's books?

  2. Angela, Thanks for reading and reviewing my books, even if you didn't like them all that much! Just a few things to clear up . . .

    Jodi had just moved into Chicago, which is why she didn't have many friends.
    I've never watched "Everybody Loves Raymond" so if there were similarities between Jodi's mother and a character on that show--sheer coincidence!
    Had to smile that you think I "churn books out a little too quickly" . . . ack! Hardest work I've ever done! Takes me 6 or 7 months of daily slaving away at the computer to write one book--feels like forever to me. Sigh.
    I'm still fighting the "chick-lit" label. Hadn't even heard of it before I wrote the first Yada Yada book. I consider it "women's fiction."
    One correction--the books haven't sold "millions." The whole series has sold roughly 500,000 (half a mil). And I'm not making millions either. However, I'm grateful that sales did help pay the bills for a few years when my husband had no work, but sales have tanked recently. That's the way it goes.

    One thing I'd like to share with your blog readers. The reason I wrote these novels was to share in a fictional way the things God has been teaching me through prayer, worship, and multi-cultural relationships. So these books have been as much for me as for anyone else. I'm just grateful God has used them to encourage other women like me in their prayer and worship life, and the fact that "yada yada prayer groups" have sprung up all over the country is a blessing I never anticipated. So I give all the glory to God.

    Your sister in Christ (from across the pond),
    Neta Jackson
    Author, the Yada Yada Prayer Group series

  3. Thanks Neta for the clarifications. "Chick Lit" is a very common term over here, and has been in use since about 1988.
    The comment on your web page about emails re new books '3 or 4 times a year' implied a faster output than you have.
    You really should check out 'Everybody Loves...' and see what I mean about Pat.

  4. Maybe the author's Heroes in Black History would be of more interest to UK Christians ? Not sure how George Washington Carver saved the South from poverty though given the infant mortality rates in the Southern States.

    Heroes in Black History
    Timeless lessons for families
    from great Christians in Black history
    Drawn from the lives of key Christians from the past and present, Heroes in Black History is a beautifully illustrated treasury of forty-two exciting and educational readings designed to help foster Christian character qualities in families with elementary-age children. This inspiring collection, highlighting African-American Christians, presents a short biography and three true stories for each of the following heroes:

    • Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground
    • Samuel Morris: Evangelist From Africa
    • Amanda Smith: American Evangelist to the
    • Charles Albert Tindley: Prince of Preachers
    • George Washington Carver: The Man Saved the
    South From Poverty
    • William Seymour: “Father” of Modern Pentecostals
    • Mary McLeod Bethune: Teacher of Head, Hands,
    and Heart
    • Thomas A. Dorsey: The Father of Gospel Music
    • Eliza Davis George: Liberia's American “Mother”
    • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Civil Rights Leader
    • John Perkins: A Man Hate Couldn't Stop
    • Festo Kivengere: Africa's Apostle of Love
    • Ricky & Sherialyn Byrdsong: Coaching Kids
    in the Game of Life
    • Ben Carson: The Brain Surgeon They
    Called “Dummy”

    Whether read together at family devotions or alone, Heroes in Black History is an ideal way to acquaint children ages six to twelve with historically important Christians while imparting valuable lessons. Includes brand-new material as well as content from previous Hero Tales editions. (Click Hero Tales to see the other books in this series and read sample stories.)

    Bethany House Publishers
    ISBN: 978-0-7642-0556-9

    Dave & Neta in their new office
    (Finally, out of the basement!)

    To order this book directly from
    click on title below.
    Heroes in Black History

    or from Amazon

  5. Thank you for the advert!!

    I take it that Thomas Dorsey is not the jazz guy who Got A Little Sentimental Over You!!
    And among UK Baptists, the Prince of Preachers usually refers to Charles Haddon Spurgeon

    But I strongly approve of reading Christian Biography, and of bringing up our children to know their heritage.


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