Just Sayin’
By Dandi Daley Mackall
Published by Tyndale
179 P

ABOUT BOOK: Just Sayin’ tells the story of an almost-blended family that almost falls apart before it even begins. 11 year-old Cassie Callahan is staying with her grandmother while her mom, Jennifer, recovers from a difficult breakup from her fiancé, Trent. Cassie, along with Trent’s kids, Nick and Julie, are trying to figure out why their parents’ relationship ended so abruptly and searching for a way to bring them back together. Meanwhile, the kids get caught up in a game show that encourages the “art” of insults, and learn along the way that our words have much more power than they think.

In a way that only Dandi can accomplish, this story weaves together, in a contemporary way, an old-time game show, letter writing, outstanding vocabulary, and reminders from God’s word that taming our tongue is both difficult and important!

REVIEW: I’m amazed by the versatility of this author. I had just finished reading her gripping WWII fiction drama. Then I started reading this completely different, fun, witty, tender-hearted YA fiction family story that had me grinning from ear to ear the whole time I read. By the end of the second page, I was laughing out-loud. My heart and imagination were kidnapped from then on by this creative, talented author and the sweet children she wrote about.

Here’s a peek at the letter eleven years old Cassie Callahan wrote to her mother who’s in CA.  “Dear Mom, Gram is making me write you, even though it’s past her bed time (which is about three hours after she fell asleep in the recliner in front of the TV). …I’m living with a very old person. You know how Gram has always lied about her age? Well, she’s started bragging about it now. I think that’s how you know somebody’s turning old…She’s so old that when she went in to renew her driver’s license, they said not only had her driver’s license expired but so had her birth date.”

This author did an amazing job of creating this entertaining novel with only the use of letters written back and forth from one family member to another. The kids don’t have phones and no access to a computer or internet service. They’ve gone back in time and they don’t like it.

Cassie and Nick enter a contest by Jonathan Kirby, the host of their favorite show The Hour of Insult, they get to work on filling out the entry form and are ecstatic about the grand prize they could win. Cassie goes to youth group for something to do. The Pastor tries to answer her questions and encourages her to write letters to God. She tries that but crosses it out. Underneath she starts to write to Jesus. I loved her transparent heart and the way she writes these letters.
She begins, “Dear Jesus, I’ve been sitting on my bed and trying to write your Father (and mine), and it just hasn’t been working for me. Then I got the idea to write you. You’ve been down here on earth.”

Both Cassie and Nick were looking forward to being a family until their parents’ engagement ended abruptly. Things were all set. They even picked out clothes for the wedding. What happened? They were determined to find out.

In the meantime, they were having a blast thinking up ways to win the contest they’ve entered. They also start corresponding to Kirby The King of Insults. Both of their parents didn’t like the show and didn’t want them to watch it.  Something changes in Cassie as she starts reading the bible and looking up things about loving your neighbor as yourself and how the tongue had the power to lift someone up or tear them down. She starts to look at the power of words in a whole new light.

This is a delightful story I read in one sitting. I was glued to the situation and wondered if this couple would get back together. This author has a clever way in which the kids in the story discuss a topic that’s important – life changing even without it being preachy. I liked that. I also adored the Gram character who cared for Cassie. She was a hoot!

Are you looking for a fun read for your book club? This is it. I highly recommend this novel. I loved this book and this author!

ABOUT AUTHOR: Dandi won her first writing contest as a 10-year-old tomboy. Her 50 words on "Why I Want to Be Batboy for the Kansas City A's" won first place, but the team wouldn't let a girl be batboy. It was her first taste of rejection.

Since then, Dandi Daley Mackall has become an award-winning author of nearly 500 books for adults and children of all ages, with sales of 4 million copies in 22 countries. MY BOYFRIENDS' DOGS is now a Hallmark movie. THE SILENCE OF MURDER won the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery. Her picture books range from rock and roll, ROCK AWAY GRANNY! to legends and history, like Legend of Ohio, Legend of Saint Nicholas, Rudy Rides the Rails: A Depression Era Story, FLIPSIDE STORIES, showing the same story from different points of view.

Her latest novel is WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE, based on the incredible true story of her parents, Army doctor and Army nurse in WW2. Visit:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
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