on November 12, 2010
Readers of Christian fiction who tend to be a bit more conservative, may find Amy Inspired edgier than what they prefer to read. The Christianity presented in this book comes from what appears to be along the lines of an emergent view and for those who aren't comfortable with a more "Kum ba yah" approach to God, this book might even be offensive. Granted, there's nothing too shocking or hair raising but readers should be aware that this isn't your typical sweet Christian fiction. Based on your personal convictions, I think this is one of those titles you'll either love or hate. There's some slang and suggestive conversations/situations. However, if you can get past the incense, poetry readings, hemp jewelry and tattooed co-ed roommates sleeping together (but not having sex) then you may enjoy the journey of Amy Inspired.
The main character is quickly approaching thirty and is extremely frustrated with her life. Her biological clock is ticking and she is questioning every decision she's made thus far. Sometimes she even questions her own faith. Having recently broken up with her atheist boyfriend, Amy continues to plod through life, underpaid, bored and feeling rejected. A struggling writer, Amy is teaching at a college (a job that doesn't satisfy her) and sharing an apartment with her quirky, roommate Zoe. Zoe is a free spirited vegetarian barista who drives Amy nuts and at the same time, is her closest friend. Later in the story, readers are introduced to Eli, another free spirit who Amy begins to have feelings for. Eli moves in with Zoe and Amy and complicates Amy's life even more.
Amy's lifelong dream is to become a published writer and though she's repeatedly rejected, she continues to submit her story to magazines hoping someday her work will be recognized. She's a sweet girl with a good heart but lives in a continual state of emotional conflict, confusion and self-doubt. She's unhappy with her current job, restless and feels like she's always settling for second best. There is a lot of turmoil and indecision going on in this book and the overall impression was chaotic. I found the book hard to get into and a bit monotonous at times (often depressing!) but I attribute that to the fact that I don't really fit the intended audience for this type of story. I didn't connect with the characters and I had a hard time following what point the author was trying to make. I think this book may be better suited for college age readers or "20 somethings" who can better identify with Amy.
This is the first book I've read by Bethany Pierce and I would be willing to give her books another chance, but sadly this one just just didn't work for me.
Sometimes I don't think I fit the targeted audience for a Christian fiction reader. I mean, I'm a 20 something Asian American recently graduated college student who lives in a big city. That's not usually who reads Christian fiction. In fact, I think I only know one other person who fits that bill. Hence, my view of what Christian fiction should be is drastically different from what the typical Christian fiction reader is. I regularly look for books that I feel I could introduce to a non Christian fiction reader and that they would enjoy. This usually means I end up liking books that don't explicitly or even talk at all about Christianity, Jesus, the Bible or church at all. I do want faith to be evident in the story, whether by actions or as an allegory but it doesn't mean that there has to be a sermon reading or preaching done at you everywhere you turn in the book.
Having said all that, I absolutely adored this book. Why did I love this book so much? Because this is one of those books that I honestly feel that someone who does not normally read Christian fiction would enjoy. The story is written extremely well, the plot I feel is totally believable and I felt that the characters were those anyone could relate to, no matter what their faith was.
Amy is a someone who I think almost everyone can relate to. She's a young 30ish professor who is only doing her job because she can't get into the profession she really wants which is writing. She went and got her master's degree specifically so she could get into that field but all she's getting back are rejection letters. Therefore to make ends meet, she's teaching English to budding writers. Reading her story made me feel like I was looking at my own life. I pretty much have done with Amy did. I got my master's degree in history so I could pursue a career as a historian but instead all it's gotten me so far are student loans and rejection emails from jobs saying I'm qualified but not qualified enough. I could relate to her frustration and her moods of feeling down about herself. I also appreciated her willingness to get out of the funk and live even though it wasn't what what she wanted to do.
The other characters in the book really add zeal to the story. Amy's roommate Zoe got on my nerves sometimes (as well as Amy's) but she has another side to her as well. I liked Amy's mom, with her mixed up words and penchant for caring for Amy. The other very interesting character is Eli, whose story is one to feel for after reading. I really liked his character and could have read a book just on him alone. Other smaller characters like Amy's students contribute to the plot as they all come together to help to describe Amy.
This is not your typical Christian fiction book. There are scenes in the book that conservative readers will probably not like. I found them rather tame compared to the stuff that's in general market fiction but others might see them as offensive. I instead saw it as realistic and something someone in our age group, whether they are Christian or not, could be doing. There is one scene involving Amy and Eli that I did find a little questionable simply because I thought it was a little out of place but I can see why it's included in the story in regards to how their characters were
This was my first book from Bethany Pierce and I want to go back and read anything else that she's written as well as any future books from her. Her writing has totally re-energized me and I really want others to read this books. There's something for everyone in here: aspiring writers, contemporary fiction fans, and those of faith based literature. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
on November 7, 2010
I received a copy of Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce for my personal review from Bethany House Publishers. Amy is a woman who hits the age of 30 and her life has not gone as planned for her career, ambitions and love life. She lives with a quirky housemate and has a romantic interest in a man named Eli, who seems to have not caught any breaks in life, but his abstract and artistic nature attracts her, despite his lack of success in life.
I have to say that this was a difficult book for me to read. The characters were not people that I felt like a could relate to and I failed to experience the connection that the author tried to achieve. As I continued to read the story, I was hopeful that it would improve and that there would be some sort of a "hook" that would capture my interest. However, I continuously was bored with the story line and felt like I had to force myself to finish reading the novel. The ending did not provide the closure that I hoped for and left the future of the character somewhat open ended.
I also was disappointed in the way the story portrayed the morals of some of the characters. I felt that some of the situations the "Christian" characters in the book were a part of were somewhat questionable for a Christian novel. I didn't feel that there was a prevalent Christian message throughout the story. In my opinion, the book may be better received by a secular market. I also felt that the description of Eli's past was not graphic, but was overly blunt and to the point for my personal taste. I would not recommend this book to Christian readers.
On the positive side, the author does have a unique way of wording her chapters and is obviously a gifted writer. I would be willing to read another novel by the author in hopes that some of her other stories would provide a more interesting story line.
on November 13, 2012
This is a book that if I had it physically instead of electronically, I would throw in the trash and enjoy doing so. I see reviews from people who are angry that they get a book that they think is (whatever description fits) and find out that it is Christian fiction and they wish they had known this in advance. This is the opposite, it advertises itself as a Christian novel and then proceeds to do nothing but trash faith and anyone of faith. At no point does anyone in the story seem to "get" that it is a personal relationship and serves as nothing more then the author's opportunity to trash people foolish enough to actually believe, or maybe they don't really believe and the only evidence of moving forward in life lies in forsaking your faith.
I don't mind stories about flawed people who are working forward toward resolving their issues but the entire cast of characters is not flawed, they are completely dysfunctional, with the possible exception of Amy's brother and his fiancee who basically remains a mystery throughout the story and seems to serve to be "not Amy".
Even the supposedly brave and inspiring character of Zoe's mother ended up just being annoying in the fact that as she leaves her husband in such a desperate financial shape because of her fatal cancer that he has to sell everything (not her fault of course) she also spends thousands of dollars in wigs. As a cancer survivor (yes I know, I lived, she didn't) I would never have been so selfish.
As for Ashley, I don't care what your story is, you don't get by in college by showing up when and if you feel like it and being graded on what you feel like completing and turning in.
There is no one in this story to like and I only kept reading because I had hopes that it would get better. As it finally ends I can only imagine the sequel picking up a year later when Amy is once again alone, still unpublished, and now unemployed. No one ever learning, no one moving forward, except for Amy's mother who shows her growth by offending her only friends and seeming to show disdain for her faith. It isn't that I agree with the teachings of her church as presented by the author, or Mom's perception, or Amy's perception of the teachings of the church, but that when she goes against the teachings of the church it is not from a spiritual awakening but from growing past all of that nonsense.
Amy and her grandmother feel perfectly comfortable being rude and sarcastic to her Mom's friends in their presence and thinking they are superior. This is presented as a good thing because Amy is so cool.
Not only did I get nothing from this book, but I can see a person of a weak faith have it shaken even further. Not only is it a waste of time, it is garbage. And if it is a biography of this author's experience with rejection slips, it is too bad this book was not also rejected.
As for the author's snarky remark about Habakkuk, try reading it, it is absolutely relevant in today's world. However, this seems to sum up the author's disdain for faith in general.
on November 29, 2010
I can honestly say that I was not inspired while reading this book. I did not like this book and it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Too verbose. I did not enjoy the many paragraphs of descriptive writing that were unnecessary to the story line. Some description is needed to help the reader visualize the story but not so much that the background becomes a storyline itself.
Too many characters. I was exhausted by the beginning of the 4th chapter as yet another character was being introduced. Since so much description is given to each character, it was time consuming to keep tract of each new character.
Too long. I was on page 286 before I realized that there had yet to be a climax to the story. For an author writing about writing, I was surprised that the book lacked basic story elements. In the last 40 pages, the protagonist did find herself at the turning point, but it felt rushed as if the author needed to keep the book under 320 pages.
Too much smut. As mentioned in other reviews, this book was not as Christian as the Christian market expects. I was convicted a few years ago about reading books that bordered on smut. I turned to Christian publishers to find morally entertaining books. I did not expect to read about half naked women and unmarried couples sleeping together in this novel.
I do not enjoy writing negative reviews, but I have read and reviewed so many books this year that it was bound to happen.
Bethany House has given me a free copy of this book to review and has given me freedom to state my own opinions about it.
on March 12, 2013
Amy Inspired is not your typical Christian fiction novel. So many of them slap you in the face with a sermon. This does not. I think that is what I really liked about the book. Amy, the main character is full of flaws. She proclaims she is a Christian, yet she makes the same realistic mistakes that many Christians make. That doesn't make her less a Christian, just more realistic.
Amy is an aspiring writer. To live she accepts a teaching job at the university. Her writing passion shines as she teaches her students the finer points of writing. Unfortunately she is amassing a stack of rejection letters for her own writing. Feelings of happiness and jealousy rage as her friend and roommate Zoe gets an article published in a national magazine. Then Zoe lets a friend move in with them until he can find a job. Amy is attracted to Eli Moretti. He is everything that she has never wanted in a man. Eli is a tattooed, scruffy looking, an artist that lives life more freely than Amy has ever dared. It is exactly this type of man that helps put things in perspective for Amy. He causes her to question things.
There was so much I could identify to in this story. I like Amy make lists and have stacks of post it notes. My family teases me about my lists for my lists. I often feel I do a better job inspiring my students in their writing than I do in my own. I loved the way the author showed the human side of Amy. Things like jealousy, dealing with death, and family issues were handled in such a realistic way that anyone reading this could find something to relate to. This was the first book I had read by this author and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will definitely recommend it to my friends both Christian and non-Christian.
on July 26, 2014
Amy Gallagher teaches English at a college as an adjunct professor, but she really wants to get her writing published. When her roommate, Zoe, keeps getting published, but Amy keeps getting rejection letters, it doesn’t sit well. Zoe allows a hard-up artist stay with them for a while, and it turns into a semi-permanent arrangement. Eli is as loose and free as Amy is structured, but he has a nervous energy that fascinates her.
The synopsis sounded interesting, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a “Christian” novel that I disliked so much. I didn’t find Amy all that likable. She was tremendously selfish, self-absorbed, and pessimistic. The only time she showed any real sympathy was when someone’s relative died, but otherwise she didn’t seem to care about others’ feelings. She was the only proclaimed Christian in the book, other than her family, who didn’t appear often. Yet, her religion consisted of saying grace when she was in public and attending church. The only time she prayed otherwise was when she felt she needed something from God. Most of the time, however, she didn’t expect much from Him, and she tried to handle everything on her own. On top of all this, the book was filled with pages of descriptions and mundane, day-by-day happenings that didn’t have much to do with the plot and was recounted and told not shown. There were even a few pages of Amy’s student’s writings, which were totally unnecessary. All of this meant a boring, hard-to-wade through book. At least 75% of it should have never been included. There were also elements of questionable values, like a woman asking if she should quit doing it with her fiancé a week before the wedding, so their honeymoon night would be better and other women talking about how many times they did it on their wedding night. Amy and Eli also slept together once, but, from, the way it was written, I couldn’t tell if anything happened or not. I kept reading, because I thought there might be some epiphany or major change with Amy near the end, but it didn’t happen. I would have never read it, if I’d known it was this boring and bad. I found no redeeming elements at all in the book, and I can’t understand what it was trying to show, for it didn’t seem to have a purpose. It certainly wasn’t entertaining. This is the second book I've read published by Bethany House this year that didn't live up to the standards I've come to expect from them.
on January 21, 2011
I only thought I had saved the best for last. Amy Inspired is the last of my Bethany House fiction books to review from the last set they sent me. What a huge disappointment! I had a really hard time getting into the book. In the story, Amy Gallagher was receiving one rejection letter after another in regards to her writing. I almost felt like the author was being autobiographical, and I could understand why those rejection letters were coming. Bethany Pierce, the author, seemed to be too wordy to me with a lot of unnecessary fluff. I really couldn't find a plot. I got to chapter 5 and finally had to give up. I just couldn't finish the book. Although considered Christian fiction, she had no real theme or gospel message to be gleaned from the pages of this book. Pierce's fascination with "underwear" and other like topics reminded me of my five year old. I could find no real purpose for this book I am sorry to say. Bethany House usually publishes outstanding Christian fiction that I can enjoy and recommend to others. They really missed the mark on this one. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
on July 28, 2011
Amy Gallagher is a freelance writer and a college professor. As an English major, she has an obsession with words. But it seems no one wants her articles or short stories. Rejections are piling up, and not just the written kind from publications. Even her boyfriend rejects her.
When it seems Amy's friends and family are moving on and leaving her behind, Amy meets Eli--mysterious, attractive, and unavailable. But as the fine line between friendship and something more with Eli becomes more and more smudged, Amy has to make a decision: play it safe or find the courage to follow her dreams.
AMY INSPIRED is the first book I've ever read by Bethany Pierce. Written in first person, it is very cleanly written, but I struggled my way through it. While I did laugh out loud at something in the prologue, the rest of the book seemed to drag.
There were instances in the book where I wondered at the inspirational status of this book. In fact, I went and checked the publisher, and was surprised they actually published something so... not inspirational. But perhaps this book isn't meant for someone like me, perhaps someone more... progressive, free-thinking, and not so old-fashion is someone this book is intended for. Discussion questions are included at the back.
on June 25, 2012
The first thing I have to address in this review is all the formatting errors in the Kindle edition. My initial thought was "Oh, I didn't realize this was self-published". (And before you leave me comments about how there are some great self-published books out there, don't bother - I know - I'm self-published. I'm not saying that all self-published books are full of formatting errors, but let's admit that many of the books with formatting errors are self-published.) I was shocked to see that this was put out by Bethany House.
I cannot imagine what processes the editors put this document through to get things so garbled, but it really was a mess. Words - split or hyphenated in the middle for absolutely no reason. The word "it" - belonging on the line below it, yet transposed on the line above it. Lower case i's with no dots above them (making words where the i's were proceeded by lower case l's look like h's and requiring the reader to study the word at length to figure out what it really was). And last, but certainly not least, the hundreds of sentences that were joined to the next sentence. Period.Capital letter.No space between.
It was very, very disconcerting to try to read this book with so many formatting errors. Every one of them took me out of the moment and made it difficult to enjoy the book. The author, Bethany Pierce, is too good of a writer, however, for me to allow any of these problems to effect the rating I've given the book. I am giving it four stars, just like I would even if it had been free of typos and errors. I would, however, highly recommend that you make sure they've cleaned it up before purchasing your own version. I see that no one else has mentioned this as a problem, so perhaps it was a temporary glitch.
All that being said, it was a pretty good read. As I mentioned, the author is a good writer and I like her style and way with words. The only thing I didn't like about it was the lack of action. The most dramatic thing going on in the book was Amy's roommate's mother's battle with cancer (not the main character Amy's mother, her roommate's mother). It was not a book with any exciting plot twists or suspense, but was, instead, a very introspective look at a year in the life of a writer (and is a great book for writers because of this).
I liked that the characters were flawed and not perfect. It was edgier than I expected (which I appreciated, but more conservative readers may not). The word "underwear", for example, was mentioned a surprising number of times.
While I was not inspired by most of the main character's revelations and felt this book was much more about the romance (which was a long time coming) than about anyone growing closer to God, I did get a lot out of the "sermon" that Amy listened to at her church. (While I'm on that subject, the book was not preachy at all, so if that is a concern of yours, put it out of your mind.)
Overall, if you want a relaxing read that allows you to get into the main character's mind and escape for a while, this would be a good one, particularly if you're a writer.