Premise: Kate Carter is your average teenager with artistic talent. However, when her class assignment to sketch someone based on a description ends up capturing a serial killer, her whole life in her small town turns upside-down. When one of the killer’s friends shoots at Kate when she is riding in a parade, the police have to protect her wherever she goes, including living with her family.
Against her father’s wishes, Kate’s mom decides the family needs to go to church, where she finds the normally mute Justin from her art class to be quite talkative. She has become a local celebrity, so wherever she goes people recognize her, which is strange because she has few friends and now people at school know who she is.
Kate and her family and friends are in different places in their beliefs, and her questions also lead her to wonder who she can really trust. They may have caught the murderer, John X, but his accomplice is still out there.
Themes: As the genre implies, this Christian young adult book has characters searching for faith. They are each in different places in their belief, from Kate and her family being new to this Christianity thing to DJ and Justin having a more developed faith in God.
Sketchy Behavior is primarily a thriller/mystery, with a few twists and turns to leave the reader guessing what will happen next. We don’t know who is trying to kill Kate, and the truth is held back until the very end.
This is also a book about family. The Carters are a strong family unit. Though they have their differences of opinion and their normal arguments, such as what Kate should do with her future, they still obviously love each other and want the best for each other.
Pros: Kate Carter is funny. She is a well-developed character and I immediately liked her. I wanted her talent to shine and take her places. Being someone who goes to church regularly, I felt like most of the faith elements were familiar, from the gray-haired old ladies to the hipster worship band in girl pants. It didn’t feel too forced into the story, though for Christian YA I might have infused the story with even more.
Cons: There were way too many popular culture references. It felt like there was at least one every other page, and some of them are already dated. I have a feeling they might make this book dated in just a few years. Although this was about Kate, most of the secondary characters were underdeveloped. Also, I had a gripe with a main plot point of the book. Since I have experience working with a law enforcement agency, I know that the police would have never released the name of the sketch artist for a known serial killer, let alone if it was done by a sixteen year old girl. It just wouldn’t happen. I had another gripe having to do with background checks for law enforcement agencies, but I don’t want to give any spoilers. Besides, it might be different for a small town police force.
Recommendations: A clean, funny, and suspenseful story, Sketchy Behavior is the kind of book I would let my young teen read. It has the kinds of questions someone very young might have about God, not attempting to give any complex answers to those questions. For adults, the story may be too simplistic in some areas, but it has an intelligent and strong teenage female protagonist with heart that young readers will enjoy.