Brianna's Reviews > Leaving

Leaving by Karen Kingsbury
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Mar 02, 12

bookshelves: 2012, chick-lit, fiction, kindle, mcpl, indiana
Read from February 27 to March 02, 2012

I chose this book for two reasons: 1. I've not read much Christian fiction, and I've heard mixed reviews so I thought I'd give it a shot. Karen Kingsbury has sooo many books. 2. But! This one is set primarily in Bloomington, IN, a place I lived in for two years. It's always nice to revisit places you loved through literature, right?

Well, it became clear a third of the way through the novel that Kingsbury's Bloomington has nothing related to my Bloomington, so that was out the window. I rather liked Bailey and Cody so I pushed aside my minor disappointment with the setting and read on. I am not used to novels being so...is preachy the right word? So charismatic? I do know a few people who try to live their lives as the Flanigans and the Baxters do - so perfectly Christian - but it was not something I could relate to. I do admit it inspired me a little to try to be more like that, more thankful and more in contact with my faith, and I can only imagine that this is Kingsbury's intent in writing a family so sweetly perfect. Even my husband's family - the most Christian, the most faithful, the most energetically wholesome family I've ever met - doesn't reach the level of the characters in this novel. So that was something that came as a little shock.

It was a lot easier to take in the beginning of the book, but as devastating problems kept being thrown at the characters in rapid succession (problems that normal people would surely buckle under) it got a little unbelievable how the characters dealt with it. They seemed so detached from human feelings. Two people woke out of comas because a loved one was singing a Chris Tomlin song in the hospital room. Two. Maybe it is a miracle, or maybe Kingsbury is trying to prove something that's gone over my head, but it was difficult to believe. As other readers have said, it's very hard to relate to these characters because they're just so perfectly Christian. I guess I was bothered by the fact that the characters ask so much of God in the novel, and the few times God doesn't deliver, they kind of look around in confusion and say "Oh well, He knows what He's doing." Of course He does. He's God. He always answers prayers, but in the novel He seems to do it in good time for the characters.

Another thing that bothered me was the lack of secondary characters. We meet only the Flanigans, the Baxters, and their close friends. (One more thing that's unbelievable? Basically the entire plot line with famous Hollywood star Brandon Paul - why isn't he ever just called Brandon? - and a seemingly random 21-year-old girl from Bloomington.) We never meet anyone else. Anyone who's not Christian or a pivotal plot mover is never mentioned by name. That only adds to the happy-little-bubble quality of Bailey's world.

One last thing - I do admit that I have not read the preceding series to this novel, and therefore do not wholly understand the connection between the Flanigans and the Baxters, but it was very odd to read two novels in one. Ashley and Landon Baxter's story has nothing to do with Bailey and Cody, and the novel felt a little disjointed because of the inclusion of both stories.

Well, I hadn't been expecting to write so much about this book, which proves it left an impression. All in all it was not a bad read, and I am not forever expelling Karen Kingsbury from future consideration for my reading list. I just found it to be an odd novel.
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