Friday, January 29, 2010

Book Review: "Becca by the Book" by Laura Jensen Walker

Adventurous, off-beat Becca Daniels will try almost anything—purple hair, skydiving, even her book club’s crazy challenge. To prove she’s not commitment-phobic, Becca agrees to twenty-five dates with whoever asks her out next. When “churchy” Ben—definitely not Becca’s type—calls, the hilarious and eye-opening dates could lead to Becca’s greatest adventure yet.

Ever since I was introduced to the Getaway Girls Book Club in Daring Chloe, I have wanted to become an honorary member. Seriously, they read the best books and then go on exciting adventures based on the books. What more could you ask for? This book speaks to us from Becca's point of view, which I knew was going to be interesting considering Becca had been my least favorite of the Girls. Something about her in the previous books just kept rubbing me the wrong way. I'm not sure if it was her attitude or what, but I found myself getting annoyed with how she acted in the other books in the series. I was hoping that this book would erase any prejudgments I had about her.

Well after reading, to be honest, I'm still not a Becca fan but I have learned that I can stand her for at least one whole book. To be fair, this story is very interesting as Becca is introduced to the "world of Christian-ese" as she attempts to win a bet she has with the other book club members. By dating Ben for a long period of time, she's thrown into the world of church potlucks, conferences and Jesus nail polish, a world she knows nothing about. The view that we get from Becca about these things is very interesting because as a non Christian, she questions as to why Christians use certain "code words" or act the way that they do. It's actually quite refreshing to see that a lot of times, Christians don't really know what they are doing and just seem to be talking the talk but not really walking the walk.

I enjoyed Becca and Kailyn's trip to New York as that is one of my top destinations in the US that I MUST visit before I die. I was especially geeked that the John Lennon memorial in Central Park was mentioned and visited. This trip seems to be the BIG one since the Statue of Liberty is placed on the front over. However I thought the trip to Monterrey and Salinas was much more interesting even though it took up less pages. More of the group got to share in this trip and the highlights mentioned sounded fabulous. I was rather intrigued by Paige's situation at the end of the book. I did not see that coming nor was there any indication that her character would have acted that way. The previous book in the series was told from her perspective and I never would have thought that she would have found herself in that predicament. As it stood in this book, it's rather glossed over which I found a bit surprising.

I did have a few qualms with this book. To be honest I felt that it was the weakest one of the series. I didn't really like how members of Ben's church were portrayed. They were portrayed as the extreme stereotypical Christian. I can understand why Walker made them that way, but they just came across as very cardboard characters. I just didn't appreciate the close mindedness of some of the members and that there was no rebuttal to their actions and thoughts. I also felt that the book ended rather abruptly. I felt as if there could have been more to Becca's story but the story pretty much came to a complete halt and then there's an epilogue updating as to what the rest of the club is doing. That also made me pretty sad as it seems this is the last book in the series. I felt that there could have been more books spotlighting all the members. Jenna completely disappears from the story by the beginning of the book with not much explanation and I didn't feel as if we got to know the group members as well as we did in previous books.

Overall, even though this is probably my least favorite book by the author, I did enjoy the book. It was a fun read and I really liked all the references about books (although the comment that Christians shouldn't read fiction - while said as a stereotype - did irk me). If you've read the other books in the series, you will want to read this one. I will say that if you don't normally read Christian chick lit, this book might not be your cup of tea.

Becca By the Book by Laura Jensen Walker is published by Zondervan (2010)

This review copy was provided for a blog tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.

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