Homeschooling Teen

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Review of “On That Day” by V. M. Jenkins

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On That Day from Christian Faith Publishing author V. M. Jenkins is a lively novel about 16-year-old Haven Jennings, a witty girl with “vintage values” who has recently started homeschooling after having spent most of her years in the “dark side of education,” as Haven’s homeschool friends jokingly describe the public school system. The author perfectly sets the mood for her story in the introductory chapter:

“The obnoxious fairy ding went off on my phone to let me know that the time was now around seven-thirty in the morning. My Wednesday friend Kate sent her usual good morning message to me, in nature-loving form. The text read, ‘Get up and enjoy the world, because the roses are waiting!’ I turned over face down on my pillow, grabbed its sides, and pulled them up on my ears. It didn’t help, because the guilt of the text was driving me insane.

My name is Haven Elizabeth Jennings. I am sixteen years old, and kind of new to the world of home school. I had gone to public school since kindergarten, but Mom and Dad decided last Christmas that homeschool would be a better option for me. So here I am, enjoying the sleeping-in part, and hating the idea of having to leave my bed before nine o’clock in the morning.”

This book basically follows a year in the life of the characters, and it mainly revolves around a weekly Bible study that Haven attends with her gifted brother Delbert. While Delbert is in it to become biblically knowledgeable, Haven is there for the social aspects – and what a social time she has, as the Bible study is full of colorful characters! Her sweet friend Kate is one of them, and some of the others will probably remind you of homeschoolers that you know.

Then one fateful day, a new boy named Aaron joins the group, and things will never be the same – especially for Haven who takes a liking to him. As we all know, the ups and downs of the teen years can be frustrating when it’s difficult to see what God has in store for your life. I really appreciate how this book approaches such predicaments with equal parts humor and biblical wisdom. In the end, Haven learns that even though obedience is not necessarily the easiest choice, it does reap its own rewards.

The blurb on the back cover calls this book a “lighthearted (sometimes laugh out loud) comedy,” which is true. Some parts are super funny! It brings to mind all those crazy things that happen to you in real life that seem terrible at the time, but you can laugh about them later. Like the ridiculous comedy of errors leading up to Haven’s prom night!

I absolutely love, love, LOVE this book!!! When I first started reading it, I finished the first half in just 24 hours. After that, I purposely decided that I’d better slow down or else the book would be over too soon – and I didn’t want it to end! The way it’s written made me feel like I was part of the group and these kids were my friends too.

On That Day is so entertaining, with such an endearing cast of characters, it would make a great movie or TV show! (Attention Christian filmmakers: please take a hint!) This story is like the wholesome counterpart of Mean Girls because it’s all about nice girls (and guys). But that doesn’t mean these characters are lacking any drama or dilemmas – and Haven in particular has some real doozies!

That being said, the characters’ experiences are not exaggerated or unrealistic in any way. On That Day surely must be based on real events because the circumstances are so detailed and believable. Seriously, it’s amazing how true-to-life the story is! The whole time I was reading it, I was thinking, “That’s just like me!” So if I were to write a novel about my life it would read a lot like this.

There is the mom who constantly misplaces her coffee cup (although in my version it would be the dad losing his keys), the family that’s always late for church (the one time they’re NOT late is a real miracle), and even the sibling who spends too much time in the bathroom. Multiple chapters in On That Day focus on the frustration and angst of Haven trying to pass her driving test! If you’ve had to take it more than once, you know what I mean.

While On That Day is an upbeat, uplifting story for the most part, the plot does take a darker, more serious turn at one point. Again, the way in which this is developed feels very real. After all, life isn’t just fun and frivolity on a daily basis. Sometimes bad things happen, and people can get depressed or overwhelmed. The underlying lesson is to always be kind to everyone, because even if you think you know someone, you never know what secret pain or sorrow they may be hiding.

Haven’s favorite TV family, the Duggars, factor somewhat into the plot, at least in her dreams. Like them or not, the great thing about this book is that even though it’s about Christian homeschoolers, they’re not the holier-than-thou type – they’re normal teens who lead regular lives that most homeschoolers can relate to. Some have had a stricter upbringing than others, but they all get along and try to understand one another.

I was pleased to see how the viewpoints of both boys and girls are given equal treatment by the author when discussing such topics as relationships, dating, courtship and marriage. On That Day would be a great choice for a homeschool book club as a way to prompt discussions with your own friends on these and various other topics as they are brought up in the story.

Overall, On That Day is a unique and enjoyable novel that includes a little bit of everything: comedy, drama, romance, suspense, and even a surprise twist. It’s full of interesting characters, realistic situations, and biblical truth, with a positive message about friendship and the importance of accepting people for who they are.

The book itself is pretty substantial at 306 pages in length – and yet it still ended too soon! The good news is, this is a series! Even though the first one was just recently published, the second book is already in the editing stage, so there’s more to come. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

On That Day is the creation of V. M. Jenkins, a former special education teacher and proponent of homeschooling. She lives in Fort Smith, Arkansas, with her husband and three children. The author stated, “I thought homeschool teens needed to read about their own world, so that’s who it’s for: homeschool teens.”

And she’s right – if you are a teen who happens to be homeschooled, this book is a must-read! I’d venture to say that On That Day is destined to become a homeschooling bestseller. In fact, here is HomeschoolingTeen’s “Best in Class Award” to V. M. Jenkins’ On That Day for being the best “day-in-the-life” story about homeschool teens:

On That Day is available in a paperback and Kindle edition at Amazon.

Reviewed by Teri Olsen for HomeschoolingTeen.com

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary review copy of this book. ~Teri

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