Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes

Blame it on my mother.
She's the one who named me
Mary Rudine.
The name is some throwback
her old-fashioned thinking
came up with.
Nobody but Mom
has called me Mary Rudine
since forever.
First it was Mary,
then it was M.R.
Mister is all anybody
calls me now.

So begins this novel in verse about a 14 year old girl nicknamed Mister, who falls (literally) for a sweet-talking, good for nothing, boy named Trey. When Mister discovers she's pregnant she has to deal with Trey's shocking heartless indifference, her regret at not being faithful to her values, a crisis of faith (will God still love her after what she's done?), her classmates and a whole range of decisions that will impact her future.

Nikki Grimes contrasts Mister's plight with that of a young Jewish maiden named Mary, 2000 years ago. For Mister this is a new story - that of Mary of Nazareth who is betrothed to Joseph and who becomes pregnant during her betrothal. Mister finds Mary's story in a book her mother has. The Jewish Mary, without sin and righteous in the eyes of God must make a leap of faith and trust God will care for her in what is possibly a situation that could lead to her death by stoning. Mister, unlike Mary, is no less deserving of God's love and she too must learn to trust in God.
I always thought
Mary had it easy,
her knowing all along
God was the one
who wrote her story.
Guess I was wrong.
Turns out she needed God
as bad as me.

When the people at her church offer her support and love in place of condemnation Mister realizes that
"Maybe it's God
reminding me
I'm not as alone
as I thought."

Mister also comes to learn her mother's secret and though initially angry at her for what she perceives as her mother's lie, Mister realizes that how hard her mother has worked and that she truly loves her.

Written in beautiful free verse, A Girl Named Mister is a quick read. The story of pregnancy and birth is told in the alternating voices of Mary of Nazareth and Mary Rudine (Mister).

Book Details:
A Girl Name Mister by Nikki Grimes
Zondervan   2011
240 pp.

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