In THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS ROLLING, book six in Neta Jackson’s series, readers will pick up smoothly from the previous book and discover what’s happening with their favorite band of multi-ethnic Christian women and their families.
For those of you new to the series, stop reading now and start with THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP, the introductory fictional story of how a diverse group of women (Hispanic, Caucasian, Asian, etc.) in the Chicago area met and became prayer partners and friends. Don’t be tempted to delve into this one first. Read them sequentially; they don’t work well as stand-alones and you’ll enjoy the storyline more.
Those who have eagerly read each book in the series will recall that in THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS CAUGHT, a horrific, racially-motivated attack shattered the unity and security of the group. An unplanned pregnancy left Jewish fifty-somethings Ben and Ruth Garfield’s organized life in shreds, and Chanda George unexpectedly won the lottery and had to figure out how to use her newfound wealth. Avis’s daughter Rochelle returned home with her young son, trying to escape an abusive marriage, and Uptown Community Church and New Morning Church were in the throes of a merger. Jodi Baxter found that her own racial views are not as open-minded as she believed, when her daughter Amanda begins dating a Hispanic boy and her son Josh falls in love with a lovely African Honduran woman. Sound like a Christian soap opera? Read on…
These events set the stage for THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS ROLLING. It’s been two years since the group has formed, and as in the previous five books, there are plenty of crises to keep the women praying hard. Ruth and Ben’s new twins are taking up every spare moment of their time, and Yo-Yo Spencer, who has depended on them for so much, is feeling neglected and irritated. Nonyameko Sisulu-Smith and her husband Mark Smith are chafing at his slow recovery and wondering if their plans to go to South Africa are on hold forever. Avis Johnson Douglass is trying to reconcile her new husband’s feelings toward her daughter Rochelle and grandson Conny, who are living in Manna House, a shelter for abused women, as the story opens. Northwestern University student Hoshi Takahashi is slowly befriending the girl who participated in the racially motivated attack on Mark, but finds that it requires her to miss some of her evenings with the Yada Yada group. Florida’s 14-year-old son Chris is in jail, waiting for a court date, which sends Jodi on an unexpected path of volunteerism.
But wait! There’s more… When a fire breaks out, it forces many of the Yada Yada women to make decisions that push them out of their comfort zones in a big way. One of the characters tests positive for HIV. The group reels from sadness and shock when two beloved characters die. And Jodi (the main character) and her husband Denny continue to wrestle with their children’s interracial dating relationships and Josh’s refusal to go to college. There are plenty of opportunities for the characters --- and the readers --- to pull out the hankies (which actually happens a few too many times in this fictional storyline).
It’s a lot to keep track of, but Jackson juggles all of the characters well. Although there is a scene at the local roller skating rink, the “rolling” in this latest title refers to the need for the group to push forward despite difficult circumstances. And as the Yada Yada series has shown, life is full of non-stop challenging moments.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on April 24, 2007