BECOMING US by ROBIN JONES GUNN
*I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review.*
Before I begin my review, I wanted to give a little background on my history with Robin Jones Gunn's books. I first came across a book by her when I was a young girl and randomly picked up a volume of the Christy Miller series at the local grocery store. The series was the first time that the idea of a personal relationship with Christ was really introduced to me. I was particularly drawn to Robin Jones Gunn's characters - this group of God-loving people who very freely and openly talked about God and Jesus. After I made my way through the Christy Miller series, I read the Sierra Jensen series as well as the Glenbrooke series (and more!). I have not read any of her recent books, so it was kind of refreshing that this was the first book I chose to review.
The book centers on Emily Winslow, her husband Trevor, and their daughter Audra. The family has recently moved to California from North Carolina after facing some financial difficulties. However, the new business that Trevor takes over in California does not take off as planned and their money problems continue. Emily and Trevor must decide whether to remain in California or go back to Trevor's family in North Carolina. At the same time, Emily is battling her own scars from secondary infertility and a strained relationship with her mother. While in California, Emily is welcomed into a group of women who become her dear friends and a safe haven for her to work through her struggles.
What I really like about this book, and with Robin Jones Gunn's writing as a whole, is that she has a way of writing about ordinary things and relatable characters that makes you feel like you're coming home to old friends. And in some ways, I really was! If you've read her previous works, you will enjoy the appearances of both Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen. It was nice to have those familiar voices in this book and to continue to follow bits of their stories as well.
Robin Jones Gunn also wove several spiritual elements/ideas nicely into this book. I don’t feel like she is overly preachy like in some Christian books, or at the very least, it doesn't feel out of place. Some parts of the story were a bit slow for me, especially in the middle of the book. Her writing also does tend to be more simple and direct and maybe a little too cheesy for me at times.
I’ll end with two of my favorite elements of this book. The first was the group formed by Emily, Christy, Sierra, and two other girls - Tess and Jennalyn. They call themselves the Daughters of Eve. I love the dynamic of the group and how Gunn always highlights the beautiful friendships of the characters she creates. The second element that I appreciated was the storyline of Emily and her mother. It sounds awful to say this, but I liked that it wasn’t fully resolved at the end of the book. Emily was able to forgive her mom, show her love, and “release” her (a key word in the novel), but in the end, their relationship is still nowhere near ideal. I liked this simply because it was realistic – our relationships in life are never perfect, especially with family. Gunn exemplified through Emily’s character how we can address that in a way that is freeing to us, without presenting a perfect, happy, wrapped-in-a-bow relationship at the end (because life just isn’t always like that!).
Overall, I enjoyed Becoming Us. Even though I wasn’t always engaged with the storyline, I definitely appreciated the lessons and themes that were presented in this book.