16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2004
I've heard a lot about "Chick Lit" lately-- those books that center on our woman-to-woman, girl-to-girl relationships. I wanted to see what this new genre of literature is all about, so I picked up Sisterchicks on the Loose.
What a delight.
Yes, it's fun-- full of experiences like lacy underwear shopping in Helsinki and savoring chocolate on more than one continent-- but Robin Jones Gunn's delicate use of language and emotion take us much deeper. There are word images in the book I will never forget-- like touching the translucence of a fragile bone china teacup or seeing a lone star through Sharon's eyes or watching snowflakes incinerate on sauna-heated skin.
The spiritual element unfolds just as inticately as the relationship elements. I wouldn't have missed this book. I'm ordering Sisterchicks Do the Hula.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2004
I'll confess: I adore so-called "Chick Lit" in all of its many guises, whether that means a Bridget Jones "singleton" heroine or a Jennifer Crusie-type middle-aged woman striking out on her own for the first time. However, all too many of the "Chick Lit" characters and plots involve myriad kinds of substance abuse (from caffeine to codeine and beyond) and self-loathing (cottage-cheese thighs, wardrobes lacking glamour, nasty boyfriends). So I found Robin Jones Gunn's new novel SISTERCHICKS ON THE LOOSE! a refreshing antidote to these other books, and believe that women of various spiritual paths will relish this different take on female lives and friendships.
Meet Sharon, a Washington State Christian wife and mother whose best friend Penny roared into town on the back of her husband Dave's Harley. After nearly a decade of living next door to each other, Sharon and Penny are separated when Dave takes a job in San Francisco. When Penny calls and reminds Sharon of their long-ago church-nursery vow to take off on an adventure together, Sharon is loath to leave her family --- even when Penny explains that she's paying for the jaunt to Finland to meet her dead mother's only sister. Unlike other Chick Lit heroines, however, Sharon has a steadfast and warm husband supporting her. When Jeff tells her he can handle hearth, home and three of four children (eldest son Tyler is away at college), Sharon faces her fears of flying and takes off with Penny for Helsinki.
Of course, no plot would be complete without tension, and since Jones Gunn has given Sharon a good man, she cannily provides a bad mother-in-law to ratchet things up a bit. Gloria, given to calling her daughter-in-law "Sharondear" and Penny "Daveswife," is not a one-dimensional caricature, but a deeply unhappy person whose constant woe threatens to unseat Sharon's calm demeanor. Knowing that Gloria is back in Chinook Springs spreading her own little garden of bitterness makes Sharon uncomfortable, and the various travel mishaps that occur during the first leg of the friends' trip make her even more so (many readers will relate to the lost luggage, airline crowding, and hotel miscommunications that follow).
Some of the scene setting seems tedious, but Gunn's portrait of two women smack in the middle of life rings true, especially when Sharon and Penny are annoyed with each other. The author's definition of a "sisterchick" is "Someone who knows the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and provides a reality check when you're being a brat." What's not here is all the binging and whining that mark all-too-trendy British Chick Lit titles, although they do indulge happily in chocolate. When Sharon and Penny come unglued, they don't let their relationship unravel --- they keep communicating, moving and praying. For small-town Sharon, the biggest joy and wonder of their trip may be realizing that other women of different cultures, ages and stages can be sisterchicks, too.
Meanwhile, the discoveries and experiences along the road from Washington State to Helsinki to London and Liverpool help the "sisterchicks" deepen their bond and tackle some deep issues. The fact that Gunn's Epilogue shows that some of those issues took time to resolve made everything much more realistic, and sets the stage for her future books. Next stop --- Sisterchicks Do the Hula!
--- Reviewed by Bethanne Kelly Patrick
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2004
I thoroughly enjoyed Sisterchicks on the Loose!! It was more than just a "fun" book - it brought out issues about friends, spouses, in-laws and just getting along. I so much enjoyed reading about other 40ish women and their insights. It was hard to believe that it was a work of fiction - seemed like it really could have happened! I loved it and would highly recommend it!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2004
This book details the friendship between 2 friends and their adventures in England and Finland. This was a very interesting book, getting to read more about Finland and England, and about the people and their customs.
I enjoyed the humor throughout the book. I liked reading about the customs officer teasing Penny about her name, Penny Lane. I liked the contrast between the 2 characters: the one free-spirited and assertive, and the other one, more serious and cautious. Yet, the characters were able to come together and have a lasting friendship.
There were plenty of ups and downs withing the book, like Sharon losing her luggage, Penny worried that she was going to die because her mother died so young, and the discussion about Penny's past, and the cousin who was going through some worrisome times. But there was a lot of fun, like the chocolate and the visit to a Finish sauna.
I highly recommend this book about a good, Christian friendship.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2003
Reading this book was like taking a relaxing and entertaining vacation for a day. That sounds like a cliche, but I can't think of any more accurate way to describe it! As a twenty-something mother of a toddler, I wondered...would I even enjoy a book about middle-aged mothers of teenagers and their friendship? However, the story carried me across the world from my daily responsibilities and gave me a 24-hour vacation! I loved it!
Best friends and middle-aged mothers Sharon and Penny embark on a crazy trip to Finland to search for Penny's roots and relatives. While dealing with lost luggage and entertaining encounters with strangers (and consuming great quantities of chocolate), they each discover new sides to their identities and hidden strengths in themselves and their friendship. The hilarious chapter describing their first encounter with a Finnish sauna is worth the price of the book alone! Robin Jones Gunn has created genuine, down-to-earth, endearing, unfailingly fascinating characters. Just make sure you have plenty of time to read when you pick up this book because it will be hard to put down!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2003
This book kept me up late because I didn't want to put it down. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me realize I am a sisterchick myself. Robin Gunn's writing is so beautifully descriptive. I almost felt as though I'd taken a trip to Finland with her. I highly recommend this wonderful book. Give a copy to your best friends!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
In 1982 in a church nursery in Chinook Springs, Washington, best friends Penny and Sharon watch a vicious horde of children including seven that belonged to the two moms. Weary from the mental and physical stress of these youthful activists, Penny and Sharon make a deal that when their magnificent seven graduates they celebrate in Finland. However, a few years later the deal appears dead when Penny and her brood move to California.
In 1993, Penny sends Sharon a ticket that will send the dynamic duo from San Francisco to London to Helsinki. The supermoms are running away from home now that graduation has occurred. With two West Coast sisterchicklet baby boomers invading Europe, will the English and the Finns survive and will American diplomacy (Clinton style) be needed to calm the waters and snow that the daring duo dive into as they go from one brash adventure into another.
This is a fun tale that feels like Lucy and Ethel taking Europe in the 1990s, yet each one remembers why they were and still are best friends while renewing their faith in God. The key to the tale is the message that plenty of life remains to enjoy for the over forty crowd without Robin Jones Gunn preaching to the choir. Readers, especially middle age, will appreciate these super SISTERCHICKS ON THE LOOSE.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2003
This book is a must read if you have ever had a "Best friend" thier wild adventure will inspire you to wake up and want to live life to it's fullest! The author keeps you on your seat of excitment to see what happens next. Sisterchicks forever!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2006
Sisterchicks on the Loose by Robin Jones Gunn is a fun, sweet ride. Penny and Sharon have been friends forever, so when Penny buys them tickets to visit her mother's homeland of Finland, Sharon of course goes along for the ride. While both women go looking for something, what they find is themselves and the Lord. Both Penny and Sharon are such real people, it was hard not to laugh out loud at their escapades, especially Sharon's encounter with a baby on the plane. In finishing the book, I found myself wishing I had a Sisterchick to share the book and life with. One warning to readers: after reading this you'll find the song Penny Lane stuck in your head for days!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2005
I recently finished Sisterchicks on the Loose. I had heard at a librarian's book sale that the Sisterchicks series was laugh-out-loud funny. Well, I wouldn't exactly say that. The story did have some humourous parts, but it certainly didn't make my sides hurt with laughter. Maybe it's just me, but I thought that Sharon's character was a bit of a mooch. Plus, her friend Penny was quite flighty and slightly off her rocker. I also thought that they were making an awfully big deal about being in their 40's. Come on people...40 is the new 20 :)
I shouldn't pan the book entirely. It was enjoyable. I especially liked reading about life in Finland. If it is anything like the book describes, I wouldn't mind visiting there one day!