‘Friends Forever’ offers clear message

Published 1:10 am Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mary Ann McRaney of Diamondhead plays with the theme of light versus dark in her faith based and very first book “Friends Forever.” McRaney will be celebrating this accomplishment in her original hometown of Picayune with a special book signing at MeLinda’s Fine Gifts and More.

“Friends Forever” is a quick and easy read with a solid message — “Let your light shine.” It totally engages the imagination with breathtaking imagery. It’s easy to go on McRaney’s ride, hiding in fear in the dark only to reemerge in light and love while strolling through the gold paved streets of Heaven. If you believe in angels, this book might just be for you.

Set in a small coastal town in Mississippi, the book centers around a 10-year-old, fifth grade student who faces some very grown up issues. After losing her dad three years prior, Cassie Bennett now deals with an alcoholic mother, being ostracized and isolated at school and a pedophile who lurks in the dark shadows of her life.

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All of this darkness threatens to envelope and swallow Cassie until she calls out to God and asks for his help.

“Yes, that’s exactly what she needed, an angel with super hero powers. An angel who would chase away evil and protect her. Although she didn’t understand the theology, Cassie instinctively knew in her child’s heart that goodness and light always conquers evil. She managed a smile at the vivid picture in her mind and could almost smell the smoke from the stranger’s smoldering clothes as she drifted off into a restless sleep like so many other nights before.

“But this was not like any other night in Cassie Bennett’s life. This was the night she called out to God for help, and God, whose ears are always listening for his children’s voices, never fails to answer their cries. Cassie had no idea that her cry for help would set in motion a series of events that would change her life and the lives of the people around her forever.”

Enter Gabriella — a small guardian angel on her first assignment. It is Gabby’s light that will shine on Cassie and, it would seem, everyone else she encounters on her journey to earth.

“Growing up was so much harder today. Kids faced problems and dangers around every corner,” thought Mr. Smits, one of the central adult characters in the book. Another theme is all of the challenges today’s youth face and McRaney uses the book as a vehicle to speak to teens and tweens. However, it is not strictly a young adults’ book and can be enjoyed by more mature adults as well.

First time author McRaney is a retired middle school English teacher from the Bay-Waveland School District as well as an adjunct English instructor for Pearl River Community College at the Waveland Center. Formally Mary Ann Wise of the Henleyfield Community, she graduated from Picayune High School.

“This book was brought to my attention, I read it and knew that it was a book that everyone should read!” said MeLinda Vitale Shaw. “Friends Forever” is available for purchase at her store, MeLinda’s Fine Gift and More, located at 109 W. Canal Street in Picayune. McRaney will be on hand at the local shop to sign copies from 2-8 p.m., this Saturday, June 27.