Cannonball Read IV #70
Karen Kingsbury’s novel A Time to Embrace is the second in a two-book series (I reviewed A Time to Dance, the first book in the series, almost two years ago). This was available at my library and while I liked the first one, I received it for free in return for a review and didn’t enjoy it enough to by the second. So free from the library = a good way to finish out the series!
This book picks up right where Dance leaves off — the Reynolds are newly in love after coming incredibly close to getting divorced. They are still dancing together, taking the cheesy metaphor from the first book to a new dorky level (they literally dance together by taking lessons that involve lots of ridiculous laughter from Abby). Life is going great until a tragic accident (how seriously cheesy of me to write that cliche!) almost undoes all of the restoration God has brought.
To start with the positive: one thing that annoyed me in the first book was the italics that indicated God speaking to Abby and John. While that still happens in this book, its frequency is a lot less, so I didn’t feel as crazy while I was reading. I still like Abby and John and yes, I rooted for them, just as I did in the first book. I also liked Nicole and Matt, the Reynolds’ daughter and son-in-law. They were a great addition to the story (well… their story gets kind of stupid at the end of the book).
But even though I gave this book four stars on goodreads (because compared it other Christian books — I believe you have to review/rate books in the context of their genres!), there was a lot of that made me roll my eyes with this book. First of all, John and Abby were almost gag-me in love in this book. It got tiring to read about them talking about how they were more in love than ever/like newlyweds/something else cliche. I get it. I get it! I didn’t need to be beat over the head with a stick to get it!
While we are on the topic of characters, hands down one of the most irritating characters in any book I’ve ever read is Jo, Matt’s mom. I understand that there are some people from the South who talk and act like her (very loud, brash, and bold), but I found myself skimming her parts because everything she said was just a joke or way too absurd.
The other thing that made me like this book less that its predecessor is the sheer number of terrible things that happened. First it was the parents of the kids who were on the football team John coached — they started a smear campaign to get rid of him. Then there was the car accident that paralyzed John. Then there was the bomb threat that everyone thought was done by the weird kid at school. Then Nicole had her baby way too soon. Each of these things, on its own — okay, that would work. Maybe even two bad things would work well, because they you could have parallel plots happening. But everything at once was too much.
It gets better, though. Every single situation is resolved so amazingly fast and with hardly any pain — because John is paralyzed, the parents realize it’s the kids on the football team who have bad attitudes and John shouldn’t be fired. And he has an experimental surgery (that the author acknowledges that doesn’t even exist yet and she just totally made up!) that leaves him able to walk. The weird kid ditches his goth clothing and spikes and black hair and dresses like a clean-cut normal kid. And last but not least, Nicole’s baby survives and has no evidence of any problems that come with a premature birth.
I love stories that are uplifting, but this one is just too sugary-sweet for me. (However… I have two more of Karen Kingsbury’s novels from the library sitting on my dresser as we speak!) Even though this wasn’t my favorite novel, I did like the first one and it’s an okay read if you’re looking for a conclusion to the events that took place in Dance.