Leaving (Bailey Flanigan Series) by Karen Kingsbury
audio book, Narrators: Judy Young, Gabrielle De Cuir, Stefan Rudnicki, Amanda Carin
Published March 2011 by Zondervan
Listened September 2011
I tend to stay away from Christian romance novels. For this reason, I have never read anything by Karen Kingsbury, though I have many friend who have and love her work. The reason I don't like reading Christian romance novels is because they are often too idealistic and lack a sense of reality. Leaving was definitely idealistic, but there was a dose or two of reality that made it digestible to me.
I really like that chapters with Landon and Ashley. I wish the book had focused more on them than on Bailey, but again the series is called Bailey Flanigan so I guess she had to be at the forefront of the book.
I didn't know that Bloomington, Indiana was such a Hollywood hotspot. Having landed a staring role in a hot Hollywood film with new leadning man Brandon, Bailey's life doesn't seem like your average college co-ed's. Pair that with have an NFL coach for a Dad and more devotely Christian family than is the norm, the life Bailey leads is not something I can relate to. I also found her to be a bit whiny and annoying. She has everything going for her and yet she's discontent because the guy she thought she loved left her months ago and hasn't contacted her. Her "woe is me" attitude made me dread her chapters. I did like how she is following her dream and stepping out of her comfort zone by taking a role in Broadway musical Hairspray.
Landon and Ashley added the dose of reality that kept me from throwing in the towel with this book. Maybe it is because I'm closer in age to this couple and though I don't have a young family and husband, I could understand what they were going through. I hope they will make more appearances in the series.
As I contemplate change within my own life, Leaving did give me food for thought and encouragement. As I stressed about life, the Bible verses and how the characters (especially Cody) dealt with life helped to calm me and reassure me (at times I strongly wondered if it wasn't by Divine intervention that I was listening to this book).
While I thought Bailey's mom's advice was good (who doesn't want a man to pursue them like a dying man in a desert pursues water) again it idealistic nature of the book. Seriously, it seemed like more of a communication problem keeping Cody and Bailey apart than desire. Guys need encouragement to pursue a girl (they don't want to face rejection any less than a girl does).
Though Bailey annoyed me (I wanted to yell at her that there was more to life than boys and falling in love), there was also something about her that endeared her to me. Maybe it was her unwavering faith. Or the fact I could see myself in her. Whatever it was makes me want to continue with the series (though I might have to stock up on some realistic drama to keep me from becoming morose with my own life).
So my view on Leaving is a bit mixed because of the nature of the genre. Karen Kingsbury is an excellent writer and I can see why so many people like her books. If you enjoy Christian romance, then this would be a great choice for you.