Book Review: Mesi: A Girl ‘n Grace in Africa


When American Girl, Inc. decided to align itself with organizations that support pro-abortion and homosexual agendas, Pam Davis, coordinator for an American Girl style show, was astonished. As a Christian parent with a daughter of her own, Davis understood the powerful influence of playtime on impressionable young girls. The concept for Girls ‘n Grace, a line of books and dolls, was born when Davis began to envision characters who could sow seeds of faith, rather than worldly ideas, in young girls’ hearts through play.

What is a Girl ‘n Grace? Davis writes, “A Girl ‘n Grace is a girl in whom the person of grace, Jesus Christ, lives. You’ll notice there’s a missing “I” and an apostrophe in its place. The Bible teaches that in order to live in a relationship with God one must surrender her life to Jesus. No longer do I live but rather it isChrist who lives in me as I live by faith in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20). A Girl ‘n Grace is a girl who has surrendered her self-centered desires to the desires of Christ. In doing so, she discovers strength, satisfaction, and significance, which elevates her self-esteem and honors God.”

In Mesi: A Girl ‘n Grace in Africa, Mesi (pronounced Maycee) learns to distinguish the gods of her village from the One True God. Living in an African village isn’t easy. Due to drought, her family’s cocoa field isn’t producing enough of a crop to support them. ThoughMesi would love to go to school, her family cannot afford to send her. Miss Ama, an elderly Christian woman in their village, encourages Mesi to pray. After her prayer, Mesi’s circumstances take a turn for the worst when a storm ignites a fire in their cocoa field, Mesi’s older brother is badly injured trying to save the family milk cow, and Mesi’s father returns from a gold-finding expedition empty-handed. How does Mesi know that Miss Ama’s God can be trusted? Does He really care about her?

Mesi includes several positive elements. The first one I noticed is that the elderly are honored, considered wise and good to talk to when one doesn’t know what to do. Second, rather than tell a little lie when her mother asks her why she’s late,Mesi tells the truth. Third, unlike many of the other village men, Mesi’s father only has one wife, Mesi’s mother. Fourth, Mesi is not afraid of hard work and she obeys her parents. Fifth, Mesi is not perfect; she makes mistakes and takes responsibility for them. Sixth, the concept of grace is grounded in who God is. WhenMesi doesn’t understand why bad things are happening to her family, Miss Ama comes along to explain that we cannot understand God’s ways but He and His ways are always good. In the end, Mesi is able to see how the events that seemed terrible were truly good for her family, and that only the One True God could have known all that. Finally,Mesi learns that Jesus is a treasure, worth much more than gold.

Following the story of Mesi, the book includes several pages of colorful pictures of African villages, people, and landscapes, with short explanations of what village life is like in Africa. Even more interesting is the story of the real “MissAma,” Bathsheba Mugure Ngugi . Born in Kenya in 1920, she became a Christ follower when Salvation Army cadets brought the gospel to her village. Though she faced beatings and persecution, Bathsheba’s faith remained strong throughout her life. The book ends with a short Bible study so that girls can read and apply God’s word to their hearts.

My daughter, who is nine years old and has read several American Girl books, enjoyed Mesi. When asked how she liked it, she said, “It’s good and my friends would like it.” She even wanted to spend some time on the computer learning more about “Mesi” and life in Africa on the Girls ‘n Grace website.

All in all, I think Mesi is a good story. I also appreciate the discipleship activities in the back of the book. There is only one other Girl ‘n Grace book so far, Sydney Clair’s Season of Change (look for a review here soon). I look forward to reading more books from the Girls ‘n Grace series with my daughters.

4 Comments on “Book Review: Mesi: A Girl ‘n Grace in Africa

  1. I didn’t know about these books. My daughter is 11 and loves to read. It is hard to find appropriate and positive books she would enjoy, so I am excited to know about these. Thanks for the heads-up.

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  2. I don’t think we are there yet….b/c I don’t know anything about American girl, but I LOVE the idea of this book….and I LOVE that she gives perspectives from another culture!!!! Thanks for sharing! ; )

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  3. yes yes yes! thank you! i am on amazon next to get this! i have a quirk with AG books – but that’s for another day. i appreciate your book reviews more than you know. has your daughter read any of the elsie dinsmore books (on vision forum’s website)? i have heard mixed reviews and would love to hear what you think…

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  4. Thanks, Leslie! And tell Hannah thank you too for her opinion. I’m sure Amy would like to read this series. She just finished a collection of four books called the life of faith collection. It includes the first Elsie Dinsmore book as well as three others that were spinned off of that original series. She is loving it and would like to read the rest.

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