Ever get mad at an author?
I do. A lot. Especially when they make me laugh, cry, giggle, gasp, and fall in love with God (again) all in the same book.
That's what happened to me when I read "Stuck in the Middle", the first novel in a new series by Virginia Smith. Talk about your emotional rollercoaster rides!
Joan Sanderson is stuck. She's stuck between two sisters: Allie and Tori, both effervescent and full of life. She's stuck in the past, longing for the father that left her. And she's stuck in her life--living with her mom and her grandmom, renting to own furniture and attending a church that...well, that just let's her be.
Enter into Joan's life new neighbor and doctor Ken Fletcher and his pal dog, Trigger. Her life now disturbed, Joan has to figure out what she wants from life and how to get it.
Little sis Tori isn't helping, with her own brand of flirtation causing a rise in insecurity in Joan. But big sis Allie is interested in an extreme makeover of the wardrobe kind for middle sis Joan, and she won't stop until Joan has her man.
Which she wants.
Will Joan ever figure out what she wants? And, once she does, will she have what it takes to pursue it? What is up with Tori's disdain for God? And is Allie having a boy or a girl?
These sisters reminded me SO MUCH of my own...kind of. I'm the baby, and I'm always being shushed up and put in the corner (No one puts Baby in the corner!--oh wait, that was a movie line...not a book quote--my bad!). We all have struggled with who we are and where we fit in the family dynamic.
Joan's relationship with her mom is...well, kind of complicated, for reasons I won't disclose in this review. But my relationship with my mom was a tad bit convoluted as well, though not as strained. Women's relationships are never easy, are they??
And Virginia captures that in both the sisters and their bond with both Mom and Grandmom. The writing and the emotional impact is both exquisite and revealing at the same time. I had moments where the words were nothing but a blur on the page, and I missed my mom so much.
This is so much more than a romantic chick-lit novel. This is a tale of the female dynamic in both the family and in the church, and it is powerfully written. Joan's understanding of God and Him as Father...well, I'll stop there, lest I reveal a tad bit too much.
For once, I'm a tad bit disappointed in the back cover blurp. It just doesn't do this story justice. Yet, how could the design team capture all that is in this 335 page reading experience?
Virginia is just a gifted, multilayered author whose novels always pack a surprise, and never, ever disappoint. I cannot wait to see what she has in store for Allie and Tori...those girls better buckle up:-)
I'm giving "Stuck in the Middle" six out of five bookmarks, with a special charm...a necklace with three little girl charms, two blond and one brunette, to adorn it. Don't miss out on this wonderful new series, and I'm telling you that "Sister to Sister"!
(This is SO good, I may just have to vote it "Best New Series of 2008"!)