Monday, June 08, 2009

Book Review: "Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes" by Robin Jones Gunn

When a mammogram result comes back abnormal, midlife mama Summer Finley makes a snap decision to relegate fear to the back burner and fulfill a lifelong dream. Summer heads for Holland where she meets up with tulips, wooden shoes, and her best friend, Noelle.

Pen pals since fourth grade, Summer and Noelle have never met face-to-face. Through decades of heart-level correspondence, they have sustained a deep friendship. A week of adventure helps both women trade anxiety for a renewed and deeper trust in God. When Summer confides in Noelle about the abnormal medical report, Noelle finds the freedom to share a long-held heartache, and both women discover they needed each other more than they realized.

Women ages 35 and up, readers of Christian Boomer Lit, and fans of books such as The Yada Yada Prayer Group will enjoy Robin Jones Gunn’s humorous and uplifting style. True-to-life characters and moments of poignancy bring a deeper understanding of the value of life and the gift of true friends.

I've been to the Netherlands once in my life. Ok, it was really the Amsterdam airport on a layover flight. Still though, I've been somewhere many have dreamed of going. And I would love to go there again. With this book, I was able to leave my surroundings and go to a land full of tulips, windmills and wooden shoes. While Amsterdam has gotten a rep for "other interests", Robin Gunn takes the reader to enjoy the rest of the country and learning about the culture. I really enjoyed seeing the sights and riding in the canals. It made me feel as if I was really there. Noelle and Summer have a wonderful friendship that's lasted throughout the years. It was also really interesting to see the underground work Noelle does to help protect women in the country. Gunn's writing is always a pleasure to read as she blends the characters thoughts and storyline easily and the travelogue flows smoothly. Summer's situation about wanting to avoid the cancer issue and just enjoy life is very understandable. It made things more realistic than her immediately accepting it and just going along with everything.

While I enjoyed this book tremendously, to be honest this probably ranks among one of my least favorite Sisterchicks books. I think the biggest problem for me was that the European Noelle made Summer seem like a stereotypical American. I know that Europeans take life differently from Americans and obviously have different customs and everything. Noelle just came across as being very cool and distant in comparison to Summer who was lively and outgoing. It just made me feel that Noelle didn't seem to realize how Summer
's personality was. This could also be due to the fact that this was the first time they actually met face to face. I also found it very strange that not once did these friends ever think about calling each other after all those years of writing to each other. I could understand if it was a different time period or if they hadn't known each other that well but after forty years? It just seemed a bit unrealistic to me.

Other than this I really did enjoy the book. The Sisterchicks books are great armchair readers as they have taken me to places all over the world that I have only dreamed of going. I really love these books that show women being friends throughout the years and getting to enjoy traveling as well. I've read that this is the last Sisterchicks book but I'm hoping Robin can squeeze out as least one more. This book is great summer reading especially if you can't get away for a real vacation. It's the next best thing to hopping on a plane yourself.

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes by Robin Jones Gunn is published by Multnomah (2009)

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