A Girl Named Mister

A Girl Named Mister

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by Nikki Grimes

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Mary Rudine, called Mister by almost everyone, has attended church and sung in the choir for as long as she can remember. But then she meets Trey. His long lashes and smooth words make her question what she knows is right, and one mistake leaves her hiding a growing secret. Mary is excited about her upcoming wedding, and has done everything according to Jewish law.

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Mary Rudine, called Mister by almost everyone, has attended church and sung in the choir for as long as she can remember. But then she meets Trey. His long lashes and smooth words make her question what she knows is right, and one mistake leaves her hiding a growing secret. Mary is excited about her upcoming wedding, and has done everything according to Jewish law. So when an angel appears one night and tells her—a virgin—she’ll give birth, Mary can’t help but feel confused, and soon finds herself struggling with the greatest blessing the world will ever know. Feeling abandoned, Mister is drawn to Mary’s story, and together both young women discover the depth of God’s love and the mysteries of his divine plan.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist - Frances Bradburn
Fourteen-year-old Mary Rudine, nicknamed M. R. and then just Mister, wears a promise ring, a symbol of her commitment to God and decision to wait for true love before she has sex. But in one brief moment,
gorgeous smooth-talking Trey, with his gentle, seductive hands, weakens her resolve, and she gets pregnant. In terrified denial, she picks up a book about the Virgin Mary, which details a similar struggle with her fate and her faith. In alternating, free-verse narratives, Grimes parallels the stories of both
Marys---their joy and terror as they carry a child, the support they accept from those who love them, and above all, their struggle to trust in God’s will for their lives. With each carefully chosen word, each wellcrafted image, the familiar teen pregnancy story is made unique by its faith-based undertones, dual perspectives, and lyrical language.
VOYA - Beth Andersen
Mary Rudine (M. R., hence the nickname "Mister") is fourteen and a Christian devout enough to sport a promise ring. A good student focusing on college in her future, Mister is blessed with a great relationship with her single mother. Mister's BFF, Sethany, shares her values and interests. But beautiful Trey, with long lashes and silky come-on lines, breaks through Mister's resolve, and after one painful sexual encounter, her life spirals off the track of promise and into the bleak future of hard choices. In the first weeks before Mister can admit she's pregnant, she finds comfort in a book of poems, written as if they were penned by Mary, mother of Jesus, who, while pregnant, is filled with much of the same uncertainty facing Mister. Dumped by Trey, Mister finally confesses to her mother, who belatedly realizes that keeping the secret of her own teen pregnancy (with Mister) helped contribute to her daughter's situation. Writing in lovely prose with lyrical, forthright language that avoids over-moralizing while driving home the big issues of teen pregnancy, award-winning Nikki Grimes just may help a few young women make different choices. At the same time, she effectively makes the case for parents and schools to continue to educate, educate, educate. Reviewer: Beth Andersen
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Mary Rudine, nicknamed Mister, enjoys going to church for the friends and the music, but her commitment to purity and her "good-girl" status are not enough to keep her from sleeping with her boyfriend. It only happens once—after that, Trey moves on and Mister is left with a guilty conscience. She turns to her church for support and forgiveness, which are freely given even when it becomes apparent that she is pregnant ("You'd think I grew a few extra mothers," she quips). Still feeling estranged from God, Mister turns to a fictionalized account of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and finds that the story resonates with her on many levels. As Mister's pregnancy progresses, she struggles with questions of what she should do, and whether giving her baby up for adoption would be the best choice. As she holds her newborn son, she marvels at the miracle of new life and chooses to trust God for what is best for her and her child, even if that means giving him up for adoption. The lyrical free-verse format of the novel communicates the deep emotions surrounding the parallel stories of Mister and Mary, two teenagers who have to deal with explaining their unplanned pregnancies to their families and friends. Though the story is most likely to appeal to Christian teens, all readers will be able to sympathize with the girl's conflicting emotions about her baby, her boyfriend, and her mother as she struggles to balance pregnancy with a normal teenage life.—Misti Tidman, Boyd County Public Library, Ashland, KY
Kirkus Reviews
Mary Rudine, known to everyone as Mister, is a typical high-school student, engaged in studies, sports and church. Everything changes when she gives into sexual pressure from a new boy in her life. When she resists continuing a physical relationship, Trey breaks up with her, and Mister works to get back to an emotional even keel. One source of solace is a book of poems in the voice of the Virgin Mary. As she returns to normal, she is rocked with the realization that she is pregnant. "I know girls who have sex every day / and walk away. / Me, I break God's law once, / and look what it gets me." This novel in poetry looks clearly at both teen pregnancy and struggles with faith. Mister is exceptionally well characterized, as are her relationships with her mother and others in her life. The language is intimate and immediate. Mary's story, which alternates with Mister's as Ishmael's did with a contemporary teen's in Dark Sons (2005), feels distant by comparison. While this can be categorized as Christian fiction, it is much more textured than novels commonly labeled as such. (Fiction/poetry. 12 & up)

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Product Details

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Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
15 - 18 Years

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A Girl Named Mister

By Nikki Grimes


Copyright © 2010 Nikki Grimes
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-72078-2

Chapter One

Mary: When Gabriel Comes I. A bright light turns the night of my chamber into day and pries my eyes open. What do I see? A being lit from within, a giant whose voice is quiet thunder. "Fear not," he says, too late. I quake, rubbing my eyes anxious to wake from this dream. "I am Gabriel," says the voice, more soothing now. "I bring a message from God." Trembling, I rise ready to listen. Still, what am I to make of his amazing words? That I, a virgin, am to be mother of Messiah? II. All things are possible with God. The truth of it falls on me like rain. I slowly drink it in, then lift my arms, surrendered. "I am yours, Lord. Do with me as you will." He wraps his light around me. I am never the same again. Mister: First Touch How did it happen? I told myself it's only touching. I told myself my clothes are still on. But who was I kidding? Even through my rayon-cotton blend his touch burned the world away.

Cave quicquam incipias quod paeniteat postea.

"Be careful about starting something you may regret." -Syrus, Maxims

A Girl Named Mister Blame it on my mother. She's the one who named me Mary Rudine. The name is some throwback her old-fashioned thinking came up with. Nobody but Mom has called me Mary Rudine since forever. First it was Mary, then it was M.R. Mister is all anybody calls me now. My boyfriend used to think it was cute, a girl named Mister. Used to think I was cute. Used to be my boyfriend what feels like a million years ago. Then again, I used to be a good Christian girl, the kind who would never, well ... Just goes to show how little people know. Even I was surprised by me. Now, I close my eyes hoping to see exactly where I went wrong. When It Was Good Was it that long ago? I remember one morning sitting in church, keeping my eyes on Dante, the cutest boy in the band. Mom caught me. "Quit eyeing that guitarist like candy," she whispered. I laughed easy. In those days, Mom and me, we could talk about anything.

Temple of My Redeemer A second home, as familiar as skin. Crammed inside its walls memories of Sunday school, all-church picnics, and vacation Bible school Sword drills. My youth group meets there, and choir, of course. Even my old Girl Scout troop once hung out on holy ground, meeting in the church basement. I could always count on the deacons to take dozens of cookies off my hands. I'm just saying, God's house was cozy territory, no question. Until this last year. Don't ask me why, but something in me started pulling away. Choir For as long as I can remember, I have loved to sing in the choir. "Sing, Mister" folks call out as my voice does a high-wire reaching for heaven's hem. I don't know what my friend Sethany concentrates on, but whenever she sings about the Lord her face gets this inside-out glow. That's all I know. Something's Missing Ankle deep, my faith a thing I wade into now and then. Not like Sethany. She's mid-sea and thinks I'm right behind her.

For Me I'm not sure when it happened, but one Sunday I woke up and for me, church was mostly about hanging out with friends at God's house. And for the longest time, that seemed to be enough. After worship, Mom would flash me a smile that said "Good girl!" as Seth and I trotted off to youth group. Restless I turned the music of the world way up, my feet itching to dance to a new rhythm, something other than gospel. Sophomore Shuffle Mom calls volleyball my new religion just 'cause I practice every day. How else will I get better? Let her razz me all she wants. I figure since I was good enough to make the team, maybe volleyball can help pay my way to college. It could happen. You know what they say about miracles. Then Came Trey It was a Tuesday. It was almost cliché. He raced round a corner, rushing to class, and smashed into me. My books went flying and so did my temper. Thanks to this bonehead I was going to be late, which put me in no mood for his apology, and I was all ready to cut him down to size with my eyes, until I caught his. Those long lashes got me, the way they softened the hardscape of his face. One look, and they softened me too. "Are you okay?" asked Trey. I said something, I think, or maybe I just nodded, or smiled. It's not my fault I can't remember. Blame it on those stupid lashes. Outsider I asked around, found out Trey is one of those guys who hangs out on the fringes of our group. He doesn't go to church but seems to like Christian kids, so I figure he probably believes in God. That's one point in his favor.

Just Friends I never thought he was perfect. I won't tell myself that lie. But he was fine, had a twinkle in his eye with my name on it. And when he smiled I fell into him headfirst, got lost in his laughter. I saw no danger. After all, we were just friends. Trey's Girl I remember the first time he claimed me. We were at a party with a bunch of kids from school just after Thanksgiving. I'd gone with Sethany. Trey had shown up on his own, like always. Seth and I were chatting away when some guy from a school 'cross town came up to me for a dance. Before I had a chance to speak, Trey threw me a look, then got all in this guy's face, smiling though and saying nice as anything, "Excuse me, but this is my girl." Dylan Thomas Trey found me in the library, surprised me with a kiss on the back of my neck. The heat of it ran up and down my spine and I'm thinking, Dylan who? "See you later," Trey whispers. distracting me a little more for good measure. So, of course, I had to go back to the top of the page and start reading "Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night" all over again. Into Him I can't usually stand know-it-all b-ball players, but I liked the way Trey committed to steering clear of drugs, and how he talked about keeping his body pure- something we had in common, even though I know it doesn't mean the same for him and me. Maybe, one day it will. Date Trey said he'd be happy to hang out with me wherever, so I invite him to video night at church. Soon as the lights wink out in the rec room and Princess Bride blinks onto the screen (never mind that we've all seen it a gazillion times!), Trey whispers in my ear that he wants me all to himself. No more of these group dates on video night, or lame trips (his words) to the local skating rink for spins around the ice and cups of hot chocolate. "Why can't we, you know, go on a real date, just you and me?" Yeah, why not? I start thinking. Why not? Don't Remind Me "Careful," Seth warned me. "I see the way you look at Trey, the way he looks at you. Remember, we both promised God we'd wait." "We're not doing anything," I told her. We're not doing anything, I told myself. Still, I couldn't help but notice how the purity band on my ring finger seemed loose lately. Like any day now, it might just slip off. Just Us Alone at his house, his parents I don't know where, we sit on the sofa, the TV watching the heat rising between us. I tingle all over as Trey closes the distance. It's okay, I tell myself. I won't let it go too far. But before I know it, his hand is rubbing my inner thigh, racing toward my waist, reaching underneath my- What am I doing? "Stop!" I tell him using what little breath I have left, too trapped in my own frustration to worry about his. Exposure I switch on the TV, see this boy and girl plastered against the wall of some fictional school, kissing their brains out, then sneaking inside the boys' room. Together. I shudder, slightly disgusted, and turn away. Still, I start to wonder if all the other kids are right. Am I Miss Priss? Am I making too big a deal about waiting? The "L" Word "You're so beautiful," says Trey, his hands busy with my buttons. I finger the cross round my neck. A voice inside me chides Remember: You're saving yourself for true love. Trey must've heard. How else to explain him suddenly cupping my face in his hands and whispering, "You're killing me, girl. You know I'm falling in love with you." MTV Nelly's "Body on Me" filters through the window. I close my eyes, wait for the music to end, but I still can't sleep. The beat of my thoughts a rhythm I can't get out of my head. I just want you. I just want to be your addiction- lines from a song stirring in me and the CD isn't even on. Losing Ground Like a summer shower falling in silver sheets thick as curtains, love rains down on me. Love and love and love and Trey are all I see. In the Name of Love I can't explain it. I think Trey and feel as if I've swallowed warm honey and a spoonful of sun. I'm not that pretty, still I'm the one he wants. Don't ask me why. I only know it makes me happy. And isn't that what love is? And isn't love what God is? So how can wanting more of this be wrong? Amnesia Trey strokes my bare shoulder and I shudder as once-familiar words burst like fireworks in my brain. Something Pastor said about temptation, and God's help. What was it? I start to push away, to study the words before they fade. "You're sweet as a chocolate Sunday," whispers Trey. I smile, close my eyes, and wait for more. Before I know it, my eyelids are screens flashing the words Your body is a temple of the- "Silk wishes it were as soft as you," Trey interrupts, blowing hotly in my ear. And after that, I swear I don't remember much of anything. Trey's Place Oh, God, oh, God! His hands mapping every inch of me, journeying where they shouldn't be but, ooooh! Lord, I know you'll understand. You made my skin, Trey's hand. I never knew it could feel so- What's he doing? Mmmm. He's tracing my name across my belly, Mister, each letter wet from his tongue. God, I'm sorry but I can't stop, don't want to- Oh God, oh God, Oh God will forgive me, right? Right?


Excerpted from A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes Copyright © 2010 by Nikki Grimes. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Nikki Grimes is the prolific and award-winning author of more than fifty books. A Coretta Scott King Award winner and recipient of the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Children’s Poetry, many of her titles have been cited as Notable Books by the American Library Association. She is renowned for her use of poetry to tell a cohesive story, for her insightful writing, and for her ability to connect with her readers. She currently resides in California.

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A Girl Named Mister 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
LeAnneH More than 1 year ago
Nice Christian girl gets pregnant is not a new plot line, but Nikki Grimes's poetry gives fresh insights into an all-too-familiar story. Poetry touches emotions in a way that prose often misses. "Ankle deep,/my faith a thing/ I wade in now and then." Mary Rodine (MR) takes courage from a book of poems about the Virgin Mary, facing the same physical changes and stigma of an unexpected pregnancy as Mister. The book is a quick read-lots of white space on the page, which can make it attractive to reluctant readers. The tone, frank and full of attitude, reminds me of Helen Frost's Keesha's House. Unfortunately, I suspect the metaphors and structure of poetry would make it inaccessible to the kids I have worked with in Africa for whom English is not their first language. The message would be well received there if the level of English reading fluency is high enough. I highly recommend A Girl Named Mister for your church library. Excerpts could make great discussion-starters in a youth group, and it may just encourage a girl in trouble as the book about Mary did Mister.
KLBCHOICES More than 1 year ago
Mary Rudine: First it was Mary, then it was M.R. Mister is all anybody calls me now... Mister wears a purity ring. She has made the choice to save herself for the man she marries, but then she meets Trey and finds out that a commitment to abstain from sex can be more difficult to keep than she thought. Before Trey, Mister was a good Christian girl. After Trey, she was still a good Christian girl even though she didn't think so; she just made a bad choice. A few sweet, soft-spoken words and sensual touches from a good-looking guy and Mister compromised her beliefs. A momentary lapse of reason and she allowed herself to be used. She didn't realize that at the time, because she believed Trey really cared about her. She needed to find a way to move on without guilt or shame. Mary, Mary was a book of poetry about Christ's mother and it belonged to Mister's mother. Mister read it faithfully and it was in those pages where she found comfort and answers to her questions. A Girl Named Mister is written in verse. This format worked better in some chapters than others. What I mean is that certain chapters had more of a poetic feel. SOFT was my favorite. Mister made a mistake that teenage girls make every day. She regretted her choice and she wasn't sure how to cope with her pregnancy. She is a very realistic character and there will be readers - Christian or not - who will identify with her. I found out about this story when a Facebook friend brought the free e-book to my attention (My mobile phone had a Free Amazon Kindle app. I am so amazed at technology these days!) Even though I'm not really into poetry like I used to be many years ago, I enjoyed this book. I liked it so much, in fact, that I purchased the hardcover soon after I read the e-book. It is a must read for teenage girls and their parents. I highly recommend it! Parents: There is a bit of profanity and sexual content.
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