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Not my favorite series
on July 9, 2011
As a loyal reader of Karen Kingsbury's books and an avid reader, I've read every one of Kingsbury's books on their release date. I adored the Baxter family series and found the Above the Line series to be harder to get into. When Bailey Flanigan's story was set to come out I found myself anticipating stories of struggles and temptations applicable to a life-long Christian girl who must move from the comfort of her home and the protection of her family to a world that is always tempting and trying to overthrow the presence of God. I found myself sorely disappointed.
I flew through these books quickly. There wasn't a lot to stop and think about what I would do if in that situation. Either I've never been in that situation (pursued by an actor) or there weren't any true to life challenges to make me think. Bailey can't shake Cody from her thoughts. The only time she isn't thinking about him is when there is a substitute or distraction in Brandon. Brandon isn't in her thoughts unless she is caught up in his "energy." Bailey dwells on Cody. Brandon is more out of sight and out of mind.
Bailey is an irritating character at best. After being brow-beaten into believing that Bailey is a good-Christian girl with no faults, we are treated to her brief moments of "struggle" that end nearly as soon as they begin. Her anger at Cody is quickly diminished. Her guilt over her friend is over-ridden by Brandon coming to visit. People around her are envious because she is just so amazing. She's more Jamie Sullivan of A Walk To Remember than the girl down the pew from you on Sunday morning. Authors often times have a hard finding a balance between creating characters that are unique so that the world notices the difference between non-Christians and Christians or portraying them as the too perfect to be real Christians that the world despises.
Cody is perhaps the best example of a real Christian. We get into his head and see his struggles. We understand he doesn't want his life to touch the Flanigans and especially Bailey. However, perhaps there in lies the issue. Cody's imperfect life would be a blemish on the perfect Flanigans. Oh they love him for sure. But why doesn't he trust that they'd support and protect he and Bailey from his mother's addiction and boyfriend? Maybe there is the fault in why so many find Christians to be hypocritical. They are there and love when you when things are great or even not good but when things gets tough they are no where to be found. However, I cheer for Cody. He made a bad decision in not being honest so that there wasn't a chasm of silence between he and Bailey. He picked up though. Found purpose.
Brandon Paul is perhaps the largest contradiction in the book. He pursues Bailey with worldly possessions and experiences that money provides, yet he has become too perfect of a Christian. Where is the struggle he has with picking roles? Is he seeing them through fresh eyes? It isn't that I don't want to see Redemption for Brandon Paul (or the entertainment industry he represents) but you can't walk in two worlds or serve two masters. Dayne at least struggled more. Brandon didn't really ever shed his old self. Yes, the drugs, alcohol, and sex stopped. I'd have loved to see him attempt to court Bailey without out all the benefits of Hollywood.
I'd love to see Ashley and Landon receive a book of their own. Ashley's heartbreak was palpable. It was out of place though in a book about the story between Cody and Bailey and the childish love triangle that we were subjected to.
Overall, this books is a nice diversion but I'm anxious for the Bailey Flanigan series to come to an end. For Bailey to ride off into the sunset with her prince (whomever he may be at this point I don't care). I want to get back to the struggles of real Christians with real problems and deep relationships with Christ.