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The Yada Yada Prayer Group    by Neta Jackson order for
Yada Yada Prayer Group
by Neta Jackson
Order:  USA  Can
Integrity, 2003 (2003)
Paperback, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Jodi Baxter enjoys a typical middle-class life in Chicago. She and her husband Denny moved from their cozy suburban home so that he could take a job in the city, and they are making the best of things. Jodi and Denny are both teachers, happily married and content raising their two teenage children, who both embrace their parents' Christian faith. When Jodi agrees to accompany her boss, Avis Johnson, to the Chicago Women's Conference, she is unprepared for how this one weekend will turn her life upside down.

Jodi and Avis find themselves rooming with a boisterous former drug user, Florida, who exuberantly claims, 'five years saved and five years sober, thank the Lord!' The three women discover that they are all members of the same prayer group, which includes twelve ladies from every background and nationality imaginable. Ruth is a Messianic Jew, Yo-Yo isn't even a Christian and has served time in jail, and Nony is from South Africa. When a tragedy strikes at the end of the weekend, the prayer group bands together to support each other.

They name themselves the 'Yada Yada Prayer Group', and begin to communicate prayer requests via e-mail. When that form of communication becomes too limiting, they decide to visit one another's churches and have Sunday evening meetings. What does God need to teach Jodi through this interesting group? Is she ready to accept that her perfect life isn't quite so perfect? I was quickly drawn into the novel, which I barely put down for meals and sleep. Some parts are almost difficult to read because they hit home so closely. For people who have been Christians their whole lives, spending time with others who are much like themselves, this book gives a glimpse into other worlds, and teaches how it's risky to judge others without first walking in their shoes.

Jodi must go through the fire before she realizes the true meaning of God's grace. Watching her transformation is heart-wrenching, yet ultimately joyful. This book is written from Jodi's first person perspective, and it was interesting to share her thoughts about everything going on around her. I was a bit disappointed that we didn't get to know everyone in the group intimately, for example, readers don't know Stu's story, or much about Nony's. I am hopeful that the author will continue the tale of the Yada Yada's in another book to focus on other members of the group.

The Yada Yada Prayer Group is an uplifting and thoughtful story. It both entertains and causes the reader to think and consider their own beliefs. The themes of this novel make it a wonderful choice for reading groups, and discussion questions are included.

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