A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes
Number of pages: 223
My copy: hardbound, won from Goodreads giveaway
My boyfriend used to think it was cute,
a girl named Mister.
Used to think I was cute.
Used to be my boyfriend
what feels like a million years ago.
I used to be a good Christian girl,
the kind who would never, well…
Just goes to show how little people know.
Even I was surprised by me.
Now, I close my eyes
hoping to see exactly where I went wrong.
Mary Rudine, called Mister by almost everyone, has attended church and sung in the choir for as long as she can remember. But then she meets Trey. His long lashes and smooth words make her question what she knows is right, and one mistake leaves her hiding a growing secret. Another Mary is preparing for her upcoming wedding and has done everything according to Jewish law. So when an angel appears one night and tells her that she—a virgin—will give birth, Mary can’t help but feel confused, and soon finds herself struggling with the greatest blessing the world will ever know. Feeling abandoned, Mister is drawn to Mary’s story, and together both young women discover the depth of God’s love and the mysteries of his divine plan.
* * *
I’m not a poetry person. When I was younger, I tried my hand at writing some poems because I wanted to be a writer. I started off with the poems with correct syllables and enough rhymes, and then I graduated to free verse poems which didn’t have the same poetic tone that other poems I read do. When I got to college and joined our literary folio, I
decided that I am not a poet, and while I appreciate some poems every now and then, I would really rather read prose.
I can’t really remember why I joined the Goodreads contest for A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes. I think I was too excited to join giveaways then, and I was just clicking on “enter” whenever I see it’s a genre or an author or even a publisher I’d like. I’m not always lucky with giveaways, so color me surprised when I found out I won this book. I got kind of hesitant when I found out that this was a novel in verse, but a free book is still a free book. Of course, the book was sent to my dad (and it kind of took forever to get there), and I wasn’t able to get it until he stopped over in the country last weekend before heading to China for a company event.
A Girl Named Mister is a novel in verse about a 14-year-old girl named Mary Rudine, nicknamed “Mister” for her initials. She’s your typical Christian teenager who grew up in church: she’s a part of the choir, her best friends were from church and she believes in preserving her purity for marriage. Then she meets Trey, whose beautiful eyelashes captured her heart and eventually everything she has. As Mister struggles with her secret guilt and its seed, another Mary’s story plays out. This teenage Mary has always been a good Jewish girl, and she was soon to be wed to Joseph. When an angel appears before her and tells her she would be a virgin mother, her world is turned upside down (and it’s not just because she would need to find baby clothes). Mister finds solace in this Mary, and as she gets to know more about her namesake, she finds out just how deep God’s love and how big God’s plans can be.
I breezed through this book in a night. Being written in verse, it was a quick and easy read, almost like I was reading some kind of Psalm. However, the issues it tackled weren’t really easy. The story is as real as it can be, and I know it is happening to other teenage girls everywhere in the world. The good thing about this novel is how the author juxtaposed Mister’s story with Mary’s story. It was kind of hard to fathom at first how Mister, who bore the weight of her sin with her literally, could relate to Mary the mother of Jesus, whose pregnancy was divinely ordained. I liked how the author showed that even if Mister sinned, He still had a purpose for her and she is not a lost cause. It’s easy to put God in a box and think that He cannot do anything about us when we do something bad. But as I’ve learned — not only in this book but in real life — His ways are higher than our ways, and He is bigger than whatever sin we can ever commit in this life. No matter how big the guilt is, His grace is still bigger and stronger and more powerful than that.
I also liked how real Mary came off in this book. It’s easy to think that Mary as this sweet, solemn-faced woman who followed God’s will without hesitation. In Nikki Grimes’ novel, we see Mary’s struggles as she accepted God’s will, as she told Joseph and her parentsabout the angel’s message and even her struggles as she carried Jesus in her womb. It’s always nice to realize that even if Mary was set apart by God to carry His son, she was also still very human. This book helped me see another side of Mama Mary. I thought the author got it spot on with this particular part:
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. (p. 171)
A Girl Named Mister is a quick but not exactly an easy read. It made me cry and sigh, but in the end it made me smile as I, with Mister, realize the power of God’s forgiveness, the grace of second chances and the depth of His love. :) Highly recommended.
Book trailer: I thought the book’s trailer was very creative and almost cinematic. :) Guess the part where I started tearing up again. ;)
Handle Like Hendrix