An email from a reader asks me a question I've fielded before, so I thought I'd post the answer here. Blog readers, feel free to give me your response in the comments boxes below:
I found out about your books and I'm interested in them for my 12 yr old...
are the elements in your books too adult for her? What would you consider to be the appropriate age level for the books? Are some more mature than others? I was thinking of Waking Rose as Catholic Faith & Family magazine mentioned that it was like a 'Catholic Nancy Drew' which my daughter loves (ND). Does it "go no further" than the romance of the Barbie or Disney movies? I want to make an informed decision before I purchase them for her.
Although the books were described by the reviewer as a "Catholic Nancy Drew", I believe that makes the books sound as though they are intended for a younger audience, which they're not. I would say the books are definitely for teenagers, and they definitely do go beyond the romance of the Barbie/Disney movies: not because the main characters behave unchastely (no way!) but because there are darker elements and threats in the stories that make them more "high school" than anything else.
I will say that all of these issues are deliberately dealt with in a very ambiguous manner, so that most of it will go over the heads of readers innocent of these issues. But my teenage heroes and heroines do fight real dragons that are out there in society today. In my books, I don't do the dragons the favor of describing their horrific actions in graphic detail, but some of the manifestations of dragonish thinking and actions are there: the threat of date rape (Book 1), the danger of young men being seduced by immoral older women (Book 2), and sexual violence and brokenness (Book 3). Also, although only one person (a villain) dies in the course of all three books, the threat of death is very near and the suspense can be at quite a high level.
For longer reviews of the books by Catholic moms that you might find helpful, I would check out these sites:
Given your concern, I would say that Waking Rose is too old for your daughter to start with. I would suggest purchasing The Shadow of the Bear first. Aside from the violent brushes with death at the end, the "difficult" chapter is Chapter 13, where one heroine, Rose, is conned into going into a bedroom with a boy that she's on a date with. Nothing transpires, and she gets out of the situation in a very clever way, but that would be the chapter that I, as the parent of a 12-year-old myself, would be concerned with. I would say, read that chapter, and if you are comfortable with that chapter, the rest of the book will be fine. Some families who have read the book aloud to their entire families have simply skipped that chapter or parts of that chapter.
The Shadow of the Bear is also an audio drama, currently airing on Ave Maria Radio in Michigan at 7 AM on Saturday mornings. Even if you are not in Michigan, you can listen to an episode during the morning hour from their website, http://www.avemariaradio.net/catholic-online-radio.php. I can say that my children *have* listened to the audio drama, and the scene in question pretty much goes over their heads.
You also might want to check out the comments of readers in the comments boxes of my blog, http://www.reginadoman.blogspot.com/, where a lot of readers shared what they liked best about the books.
I hope this helps! Let me know what you decide to do: it will help me in knowing what to tell other moms with similar concerns!
Peace and good