Recently, Thomas Nelson sent me Redefining Beauty, a book by Jenna Lucado (yes, her father is the more well-known Max Lucado), written primarily for 12-17 year olds. The paperback retails for $12.99.
When I received the book, I expected the theme to be along the lines of, "Christians shouldn't think of beauty the way the world does, we should be modest and less concerned about appearances." While all this is true, I was pleasantly surprised that Miss Lucado went further than this. When she talks about "redefining beautiful" she really wants girls to think about what really makes a girl beautiful - what's on the inside.
She calls these things on the inside which make girls beautiful "Life Accessories," such as "Security - trusting that no matter what, we have a God who loves us" and "Peace - in believing God is in control." These life accessories are what makes us attractive to others no matter what kind of clothes we wear.
The most important theme of her book is that the foundational beauty secret is a father's love, both earthly and heavenly. A girl with an earthly father who shows his daughter love, spends time with her, and teaches her to love God will be infinitely more likely to be filled with these life accessories. But even a great earthly father isn't perfect, and ultimately we all must look to our heavenly father as the source of our inner beauty. Miss Lucado also points out that this is even more important for girls whose dads are either non-existent or are abusive.
She also touches on boys, friends, authority figures, and modesty. I appreciated her approach to the modesty issue. It's easy to make a list about what is acceptable and what isn't, but she encourages her reader to think of two things when dressing: would God approve and will it tempt boys to think about things they shouldn't. She is also quite emphatic about letting boys take the lead in the relationships - they should do the approaching, the asking out - and she discourages girls from flirting.
While the book was written for teens, the tone is often a bit condescending. Though Miss Lucado is evidently in her early 20s, she just tries a little too hard to be"hip" sounding, to talk in language a teen would talk. As a result, I think it would be best for the younger end of the age range as I doubt high school kids would respond to the tone. For instance she calls Ishmael "Ishy" and the apostles "a group of guys Jesus hung out with."
I also think this book would be best used as a discussion tool with your daughter. There are several instances where the author asks her readers to make lists and to write certain things down. I think most girls wouldn't do this unless forced to, but I think an even better idea would be to use these as discussion points with your daughter. This would also give home schooling moms like me a chance to explain what she means when she talks about throwing on clothes and rushing out the door to first period.
The biggest drawback to the book is that while the truths are simple, they aren't delved into deeply. For instance, she does a good job of pointing out that we are valuable to God, called his children, etc. However, though she is evidently writing to believers, she fails to develop this idea of our identity in Christ, that when God looks at us, He sees Christ.
If you have a daughter that is struggling with insecurities about her looks and who she is, this could be used as a starting point of some good discussions. Just be prepared to delve deeper into some areas she glosses over. Thank you, Thomas Nelson, for the opportunity to review Redefining Beauty. This has definitely given me some great ideas for topics to bring up with my girls!
This review is also posted on Amazon.com.