Recently, I lifted the cover of a newly acquired book, Play It Again. Cigarette smoke curled up out of its pages, clung to my hair, wrapped itself around my shoulders and tickled my nose till I sneezed. I'm allergic to cigarette smoke—the smell of stale liquor makes me gag. I don't like jazz, and I really don't like sultry jazz. I hadn't considered the impact content might have on me when I agreed to read the novel with a view to writing a review. Hmmm, would I be able to do it? I knew the author, Tracy Krauss, classified herself as "Edgy Christian.” I wondered what she meant by that. Now that I knew, I slipped into Holy Spirit so I could quit coughing and dove back into the story to see what Jesus was up to—these were His kind of people. The kind he left 99 righteous ones to find. This was going to be good!
Tracy captures the smoky bar scene, the lifestyle of those who struggle to make a living by their music, and the consequences of the loose morals and the lifestyle, of a variety of individuals you might meet on any given day of the week. I appreciated the accuracy and consistency of her characters. It wasn’t long before I was pulling for the good guys, wanting to stuff a reality muffin down the bad guys, and tell the jerks to grow up! I told you I experience books, I don’t just read! The author’s timing and sequencing of events were very effective. She let her characters live and let you bond with them so that you wanted good things to happen for them. To that end Christ was not brought into the story line in any real way that would result in change until well into the story! When He came, He made a difference! I appreciated the gentleness and lack of condemnation with which He came—the characters who brought Him into play were not preachy; they didn’t push Him on anyone. In the end…well you judge for yourself!
So what about “edgy?” Well, there were loose morals—and you saw the consequences of loose morals without whitewash. There were cuss words—nothing any 7th grader hasn’t already heard. To be honest, I was so into the story that the cussing blew right by me. It was not stand out offensive, no throwing it out like bird seed! The story seemed very “now” to me…this could be many people’s story. And many people need the hope that they too could have a happy ending. Many need to be reminded that there is forgiveness and restoration, a light at the end of their tunnel if they are willing to accept it.
I would not recommend Play It Again to people who came out of that kind of scene, who have learned that they need to avoid it because of the strong pull it has for them—much as I would not offer wine to a recovering alcoholic. Nor to those who are into a strongly religious scene whose skin would prickle with the worldliness of the book. I would recommend it to anyone who wants something better of life but doesn't know where to find it.
Happy reading! Carol