I’ve been a fan of Neta Jackson’s Yada Yada Prayer Group series for many years.  I began reading them when she was nearly done with the original series, so I had the experience of waiting for the new ones to be released before getting to finish.  Now that they are all done, I’ve gone back and reread the whole series at least once.  They’re that good.

The Yada books bring you into the world of a diverse group of women who live in Chicago, their very real lives complete with struggles and lapses in their faith, and shows the value of having good friends who love God and love you, no matter what.

The newest series that Neta has written is the Yada Yada House of Hope novels. They also are now “done”, and I’m just reading them for the first time.  She has taken some of her main characters from the prayer group, and made them supporting characters in a fresh series that dives into homelessness, hopelessness, and how close we all can be to a drastic change in circumstances.  I am learning to challenge my idea of what a homeless person may be like, to be more willing to consider a wider range of backgrounds and reasons for losing the stability of a home.

My daughter interned at a local transitional shelter, and she saw a lot of real life reasons for homelessness, as well as the strict rules that a shelter has to enforce.  That is no different in the House of Hope novels, but I appreciate the strong faith of many of the people involved in the shelter, and believe that our local faith-based shelters likely have a similar makeup of Godly people doing what they can to reach out and help others find a way to get their lives on a more even keel.

I feel challenged to consider what opportunities there are in my world to reach out beyond my comfort zone a little more.  Isn’t that one mark of good writing; that it doesn’t just make you feel good about yourself and move on, but that it challenges you to make a move that will help someone else feel better as well?

Next time, the brother companion series.