Asking for Trouble by Sandra Byrd is book 1 of the series London Confidential. Fifteen-year-old Savannah moves with her family from Seattle to England. The novel, told in the first person, focuses on Savannah and her efforts to make friends and to find a place (extracurricular activity) in schoolworld.

After several failed (but humorous) attempts at joining various clubs, Savannah admits the school newspaper is where her heart is. Applying for an opening as a reporter, she gives into temptation and exaggerates her experience. She prays and her conscience prompts her to admit to the editor she did overstate. Contrary to current movie lore, he does not give her the job anyway. Instead he offers her a more lowly position–delivering the papers on campus. Savannah pushes aside her pride and accepts the job. Now a member of the staff she comes up with an idea to save the paper–an advice column. However, she is not just handed the job. She must compete for it.

The novel depicts the everyday problems of finding your way in a new school. Who do eat lunch with? Are your former friends, now former? How do you treat people who reject you or make fun of you? Do you try to fit in by pretending to be someone you are not? Or do you trust that if you are just yourself, God has a place for you and He will help you find it?

With prayer and Bible reading Savannah works out the answers to these and other questions. In addition God helps her learn about secrets–when to tell and when to keep it confidential.

One other, but I think value-packed element that further sets this book apart from other new-girl-in-school stories is that the whole family is adjusting to their new home, not just the teenager. The author shows them all struggling–Dad, Mom, Savannah and Savannah’s ten-year-old sister, Louanne. They all have difficulties making friends, understanding British English, missing American food and customs and finding a church home. Modeling Christian values, the author further shows family members learning to have compassion for each other and help each other adjust.

While the book is being marketed to 8- to 12 year-olds, I think many parents may feel it fits better for girls 11- to 14 year-olds because of Savannah’s interest in boys as boys.

Nancy

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