Book: If You Really Knew Me
Author: Alison Cheah
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Release date: December, 2021
Tommy is glad of friendships which make him forget the situation at home. His father’s illness makes his behavior so unpredictable that the whole family must tip-toe around him for fear of becoming the butt of his anger.
Elise wishes her twin sister didn’t think being champion swimmers was an adequate goal for their lives. She has her own dreams to fulfil.
Carrie hides a secret, avoiding othe other students so nobody will ever find it out. But Tommy and Elise both look to Carrie to save them from their situations.
Until she disappears.
Tommy’s protective instinct kicks in, and Elise reassesses her priorities so she can help keep Carrie safe.
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About the Author
Alison Cheah worked at Youth for Christ for five years and volunteers with her church youth group. One of her favorite activities is preparing Bible Studies and seeking how to connect the stories of the Bible with her students’ own stories.
As a child she was always to be seen with her nose in a book, and nothing has changed. One of her favorite authors was Patricia St. John. Her characters are people you want to people you want to know, and you are rooting for them to overcome their problems, but for Alison, the added dimension was that each person discovers their answers in Jesus. She saw that the faith she had grown up with had applicability in real life.
Her prayer is that this story has the same result for you.
More from Alison
I spent five years working at Youth for Christ with middle school students like Tommy, Carrie, and Elise. They are not based on kids I met, but they are inspired by my experiences then.
My friend and mentor in youth ministry was Anna-Marie Valles who is also a character in Tommy, Carrie and Elise’s story helping them to make sense of some of the questions they have.
We don’t get to know her well in the book, but I had a chat with her recently about youth ministry and here is an extract from that conversation. I think you will enjoy getting to know her better.
Alison: In the story, Elise shares her problems with you. Do you find teens want to talk to an adult about their problems?
AMV: Kids are hungry to be able to unload their stories on people who are willing to listen. I remember in one club a student said that all day, adults were telling him what to do. But club was a space where people were asking him, “How are you feeling? “What are your thoughts on this?” He was shocked.
Alison: You were only eighteen when you started in youth ministry. After all these years, how do you stay current so kids still want to talk with you?
AMV: If you come to kids with a willingness to learn, you become relevant. Say to them, “Tell me what’s going on?” Don’t pretend you have all the answers. I find that has worked for me. “I don’t know your culture like you do. But I’m willing to see through your lens if you’re able to share that with me.”
Age is interesting. I always worried I would age out. At my application interview for seminary I said, “I always thought if I aged out of youth ministry, I’d be a chaplain.” And the professor called me out on that. You never age out because kids still need that safe place where someone is willing to listen.
Alison: The profits from this book will be used to send kids to camp. Why is this important to you?
AMV: Youth ministry is all relational. But trust can take a while to build. The beauty of camps is that you can create a bond in one week that could take two years without.
And at camp they hear the gospel presented in different ways by different speakers. Other people’s creativity and presentation may reach my students in a way that I haven’t been able to.
What saddens me is not everyone can go because camps are costly. My desire is that every student who wants to go will have the opportunity to do so.
For more of this conversation, see alisonrcheah.com
(Interview transcribed by https://otter.ai )
My prayer is that the story of Tommy, Carrie and Elise will be one of those different speakers Anna-Marie talked about, helping kids to begin their own relationship with Jesus.
I really enjoyed this story centered around accepting yourself. Each child in the story had a feeling that they were not good enough or wanted. Sometimes they tried to be overachievers and other times they wanted to run away. I loved how the author incorporated stories from the Bible that is easy for children to understand. I thought the way the author told the story about the prodigal son was excellent. It was easy to apply it to our own lives when we realize that we are loved.
The author touches on subject like disobedience, foster care and being abandoned in a way that illustrates what young people face today. They have obstacles to overcome and through learning about God it helped them to understand about unconditional love. There is a section in the book where two young girls write something for a class project. As I read the words, it made me cry. How many of us hide behind a mask everyday? We are afraid to let people see the real us for fear of rejection. When I was younger all I wanted to do was fade into the wall at school. I was bullied and no one did anything about it.
This book is a great tool for middle school and up to learn how to overcome obstacles that hold us back from God and knowing that we are important. What I really liked about the book was that the message is not just for children but adults as well. We are not alone and don’t need to hide. We need to be ourselves and be confident in how God made us.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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Inklings and notions, May 18
Blossoms and Blessings, May 19 (Author Interview)
deb’s Book Review, May 20
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 21
Simple Harvest Reads, May 23 (Author Interview)
Vicarious Living , May 23
Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 24
Guild Master, May 26 (Author Interview)
To celebrate her tour, Alison is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.