By Aaron Earls
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A young girl longs to make a name for herself musically and escape the shadow of her one-time music star father.
With similar stories capturing media attention regularly, being culturally relevant will not be an issue for the film Grace Unplugged or two new books from B&H Publishing Group related to the movie—a novelization of the screenplay and Own It, a nonfiction work encouraging readers to develop their own personal faith.
The novel follows Grace Trey as she lands her big music break that takes her away from her family and faith and into pop stardom. She pursues this dream on her own despite warnings from her father Johnny Trey, a one-hit wonder two decades earlier who left the music industry behind after becoming a Christian.
Melody Carlson, an award winning author whose works have sold more than six million copies, penned the novel. Recently, she received the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for a span of 20 years as a professional writer with 200 books published.
“I’m hoping we prompt a lot of dialogue between families,” said writer and director Brad J. Silverman, who consulted on the books.
In the plot of both the book and movie, Quentin, the only Christian influence in Grace’s new life, gives her a book to help her reconsider her choices to pursue music success at all costs. The book, Own It written by best selling authors Michael and Hayley DiMarco, focuses on “leaving behind a borrowed faith.”
Own It contrasts a personal possession of faith with faking, borrowing, renting, picking and choosing, or disowning it. The DiMarcos examine the results of owning faith with the purpose of helping to “navigate what to do when faith meets real world challenges.”
Together, the husband and wife team of Michael and Hayley, have written more than 40 books, two were Christian Book of the Year for Youth and dozens were best sellers. Hayley has been a featured speaker at numerous events and conferences, including Women of Faith. Michael has spoke at some of the largest organizations in the country and is currently serving as a minister in their Nashville church.
“Do you own your faith? Do you rent it? Or do you borrow it from your friends or family?” asks Russ Rice, one of the film’s producers and book consultants. “Those are the questions Grace has to answer, and I hope the movie’s audience and the books’ readers answer them, too.”
While the story may seem to be pulled directly from current news headlines, Silverman traces the origin of the story to seeing Rice and his wife deal with their own daughter running away.
“She decided not to embrace the faith of her childhood,” said Silverman. “‘Grace Unplugged’ started to take root in my mind when I saw them struggle with a tremendous sincerity of the heart.”
“Six years ago, my daughter chose to discard her family and faith and pursue her own lifestyle, said Rice. “And going through that, it really gave us a heart for folks. As my wife and I were transparent with what was going on in our family, we started realizing that this is a pretty common theme in the body of Christ.”
In addition to the B&H books, LifeWay Christian Resources partnered with the film to produce small group material for both parents and students. The parents’ study uses clips from the film and discussion questions to help participants examine their own pursuits, passions and priorities as a parent. The student version goes through the same material, but focusing more on Grace and the choices students must make with their faith.
Grace Unplugged comes to theaters Oct. 4. Grace Unplugged the novel and Own It are available at LifeWay.com/GraceUnplugged.