We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

Just Ask by Melody Carlson has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the "Diary of a Teenage Girl: Kim" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Kim Peterson, a Korean adoptee, has little use for the Christian faith of her parents and best friend, Natalie. She toys with Buddhism when a classmate's death gets her thinking about eternity. She's not the only one with questions — her dad has her writing a teen advice column for his newspaper called "Just Ask Jamie." She fields tough inquiries on topics like romance, family problems and body image. Only when she becomes a Christian is Kim able to start giving helpful advice to those with questions about death and the meaning of life. As Kim grows in her faith, she confronts issues like dating, self-esteem, friendship struggles, alcohol use and lying. At the end, her mom is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and Kim must trust God to work out the future.

Christian Beliefs

Just Ask is the story of a girl accepting Christ and learning to apply His principles in the "real world" of today's teens. Once Kim becomes a Christian, she lays out the message of salvation for readers. The prayers of Kim's Christian friends, and their support after her conversion, play an important role in her faith journey; Kim begins to attend church and go to a youth group, and her "Just Ask Jamie" answers reflect her newfound convictions. From the time she begins struggling to when she accepts God's role in her life, Kim frequently prays.

Other Belief Systems

Buddhism is explained and discussed in detail as Kim examines the belief system of her Korean heritage. The author uses this as a tool to explain some of the tenets of that faith and to contrast it with Christianity. Kim ultimately determines that only following Christ makes sense.

Authority Roles

Kim's parents are Christians, but the story begins with Kim's dad "blackmailing" her. He says he won't tell Kim's mom about a traffic ticket Kim got if she will write a teen advice column for the newspaper he manages. Kim's mother later tells Kim that she knew about the ticket. Kim's dad had secretly told her. Kim's mother cries when Kim starts exploring Buddhism, but Dad assures her that Kim is a smart girl who will discover the Truth in time. The father of her friend Natalie runs off with a co-worker, and Natalie's mom has, in Kim's words, some "pretty weird mood swings" since he left. Natalie's mom relies excessively on Natalie to care for her two younger siblings. Teens in Kim's "Just Ask Jamie" letters talk about parents failing to act their age and using or abusing their children.





Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Note: Other series characters include Caitlin, Chloe and Maya.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

14 to 18


Melody Carlson






Record Label



Multnomah Kidz


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!