All In One Place–Carolyne Aarsen

This is another Christian chick-lit book and a sequel to The Only Best Place.  In this sequel, Terra runs away from an abusive relationship to her more stable and married (and newly Christian) sister, Leslie,  in Montana.  The girls grew up with an alchoholic and often absent-minded at best mother and Terra, the elder sister, seems to suffer from those scars more deeply than Leslie.  However, there is room for another novel as Leslie rejects her mother and has not found Christian forgiveness for her. 

Terra has trust issues.  She has self-esteem issues.  She has man issues.  She runs into an incident with some thugs in a bar when she first comes into town.  He’s the one who leaves bloodied, however, which shows a character with some spunk.

The story isn’t bad, which is why I picked it up and put it in my bag.  However, like much Christian chick-lit, it follows a basic pattern:  plot, plot, interesting characters, oops, time for some moralizing, which is then plopped in very awkwardly.  Terra finds it awkward and tries to escape it for most of the novel and I found myself sympathizing with her–and I’m Christian.  Why can’t the characters’ Christianity just be an organic element of who they are?  Why does someone have to be saved from the perils of unbelief and have the merits of Christ thrown at them like a Sunday sermon? 

Clearly this lit appeals to many, but I’d really like to see editors, and Christian readers, demand that the elements of romance, chick-lit, and Christian characters be integrated in a more realistic and less cartoonish way.  When I run out of books, I may go back to The Only Best Place just to see if Aarsden was as stiff with the Christian piece there as in this one and to see if Leslie is more likeable character, because she’s a bit of a self-righteous B in much of this one.

Finished 11/16/2011

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