Although the final novella in the series is slimmer than its chunky predecessors, in THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS DECKED OUT, Neta Jackson again offers an entertaining and often thought-provoking story with a rainbow cast of characters that has spanned seven books. Yada Yada fans won’t want to miss it. If you haven’t read the first six books, take note: you’ll want to stop reading here and start with THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP and read them in order.
We left our characters in Chicago at the end of THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS ROLLING in all various stages of crisis and growth. Manna House, the women’s homeless shelter, had burned to the ground because of a dry Christmas tree and faulty wiring. Now, almost two years later, thanks in part to Chanda George’s lottery winnings, a new brick building is in place and ready to be dedicated. Jodi and Denny Baxter’s son Josh and his fiancée Edesa Reyes are still in love, but a new twist in their relationship raises question marks. Josh’s sister Amanda is in college, a beloved four-footed member of the family is gone for good and the Baxters are discovering what it means to truly have an “empty nest.”
More updates: SouledOut Community Church is blending the two original congregations, Uptown Community Church and New Morning Church, and is now a melting pot of races and cultures. The aging Ruth and Ben Garfield are now the parents of two-year-old twins, and “there ought to be medals for mothers in their fifties,” sighs Ruth. Becky Wallace has a job with UPS and is able to take care of her young son, Little Andy, again.
A lot more has happened in two years. Hoshi Takahashi has returned to Japan, hoping to build a relationship with her estranged parents who disapprove of her Christian faith. Nonyameko and Mark Sisulu-Smith are in South Africa but coming home soon, and Florida Hickman’s son Chris, who seemed headed for jail, is now enrolled in one of Chicago’s elite art programs. Avis Johnson Douglass’s daughter Rochelle and grandson Conny are independent again, after Rochelle escaped an abusive marriage and was diagnosed with HIV. Yo-Yo Spencer’s brother is in the army and seems likely to be deployed to Iraq. And this is just the beginning of what’s happening with the colorful and chaotic group.
Prayer, of course, is front and center, and with the Yada Yadas, it’s vocal and enthusiastic (“Yes, Jesus! Mm-mm.” “You’re an on-time God!”). Prayer is especially important in the early pages for Jodi, when Amanda brings home a football player friend from college for Thanksgiving vacation that sets Jodi’s teeth on edge. She and God have plenty of conversations in italics, which mostly serve to remind her that she needs to show the grace to Neil that she’s been given herself: Thanks, God, for keeping me from shooting off my big fat mouth. Other events transpire that require prayer and lots of it: a baby is seemingly abandoned, a young women dies, a former student looks as if he’s been abused, one of the Yada Yada women is mugged…well, there’s not much that doesn’t happen in the 200-plus pages.
A plot twist involving the young boy who stole a purse may seem like a stretch to some readers, but it won’t keep you from grabbing a hanky before the final page is turned. Recipes and ideas for celebrating the holidays conclude this amazing series, which will be missed by legions of faith fiction fans.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on October 2, 2007