I’ll freely admit it. I was skeptical about this book. Recently I signed up for NavPress’ blogger review program and was checking out the books they had available for review and I thought, “a Christian chick-lit book? That must be awful.”
Now, you must understand something. I’ve been in the Christian culture since I was prenatal. I know how ridiculous items made in our culture can get (*coughLeftBehindFilmscough*). Though, do not go ragging on the Left Behind books since my uncle went to college with Jerry B. Jenkins at my alma mater.
But I digress.
Despite my reservations, I decided to give Around the World in 80 Dates a try. After all, the cover looked compelling and, as a Christian single girl, I felt I needed some feel-good chick-lit. If nothing else, I’d have something serious to say in my review about the lack of realism in Christian fiction.
Boy was I wrong. I picked the book up and two days later had the entire thing read (I would have had it done sooner, but I have a friend visiting). It’s been a long time since I consumed a book like I did Around the World in 80 Dates.
Christa Ann Banister apparently was secretly filming my life and borrowing from my experiences when she wrote this book. The main character, Sydney, like me went to Bible college, didn’t get her MRS degree (Mrs.), and loves writing. She’s a spunky, self-confident heroine who isn’t afraid to be a bit of a mess sometimes when her love life doesn’t turn out as expected. I actually laughed out loud several times as Christa explained “DTR” (Define the Relationship) talks [a huge subject for debate when I was in college] and how hard it is to buy a Bible for someone else. One of the scenes involves a couple kissing during the Godfather (my parents’ first kiss was during Bonnie & Clyde). Plus, she gained extra brownie points for having one of the characters (albeit a small part) named “Tabitha”. If you were named Tabitha you’d know it’s not a name you hear or see a lot in fiction (I about cheered during the movie Flushed Away because the owner of the rat was named Tabitha).
The story takes you through Sydney’s experiences dating, but also gives you insights into the lives of the other characters of the book by switching view points to get inside their heads. While this was a bit disconcerting at first (I had trouble remember who was who), it lead to a richer story-telling experience because you really began to feel the characters and sympathize with what made them tick.
I also appreciated that Sydney wasn’t a character that thumped everyone over the head with her faith. The ways she deals with it are very real and woven into the story. None of the “lets stop for a moral lesson” moments that badly written Christian fiction often tries to throw in. In short, Sydney is relatable for any person who has struggled with life and love. She’s a light without being a sunburn.
The book is funny, but stays away from being just a fluffy chick book by dealing with some serious issues women face when trying to find Mr. Right. I especially applaud how Sydney isn’t a pushover or someone desperate to get married just to be married. She knows what she wants and makes some tough choices along the way.
In short, I highly recommend you pick up this book. It’s guarenteed to lift your spirts and, at the least, remind you that you’re not the only single woman out there with a bad dating history.