Book Review: Stuck in the Middle (Sister-to-Sister Novel 1)

Stuck in the Middle on Kindle

4 open books the girl in the steel corset

Author: Virginia Smith
Genre: Christian Fiction/Romance
Published: February 1, 2008 by Revell

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Synopsis: 

Joan Sanderson’s life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement. That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal–to get a date. But it won’t be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can’t compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut.
Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry.

Book Review:

First of all, this is my second time to read a Christian fiction. The first one was when I was in college, and I couldn’t remember the title.

And although I’ve read books from LDS authors, like Stephanie Meyer, they were’t really centered around God, you know.

So anyway, I thought I’d give Christian romance a try, and this book, Stuck in the Middle fits the bill just fine. The cover looked interesting and I thought maybe it’s not that boring after all.

Well, it wasn’t in the first few pages of the book. I liked how the writer introduced Joan. You can already tell from the first parts that the main character, had some issues in the past that she can’t let go or is having a hard time letting go. And you could tell that despite having her family close by, she’s lonely and needs someone in her life to fill the gaps. While reading her story, she sounded like a 40-year-old spinster instead of a mid-20s young professional. She was that serious in her life, which fits the plot perfectly.

Joan is this young heroine who needed to be saved from her self before she turns into an old spinster, lonely and stuck in the same place where she grew up.

Then enters Dr. Ken. The young, dashing medical doctor who moves in next door. Now, before you fantasize him as being the bad boy who’ll take her breathe, he’s actually the opposite. He’s not boring, but he’s not all that fun either. I’d say he’s the kind of guy you would probably want to settle down with for good. Not when you want to have fun. He kind of reminds me of that guy, Ty, from Dawson’s Creek who was kind of religious because he doesn’t believe in pre-marital sex.

Anyhoo, let’s continue with the review.

Stuck in the Middle is actually a nice story. It’s not just about love and romance. It’s also about caring for your family, forgiving oneself and letting go of the past. More importantly, it teaches you that God will never forsake you. Ever.

Now, for some atheists, agnostics and non-Christians, this may sound weird and unfamiliar. But to me, as a Christian, it’s something I can appreciate because I find the book uplifting and faith-strengthening. By the end of the book, I felt my faith renewed.

Moving on, I find the book well-written. There were also some parts that had me laughing, such as the part where Joan and her sister, Tori, were competing for Dr. Ken’s attention. I thought that was refreshing in a non-slutty way. It was also very wholesome, which is just right for a Christian book. You don’t have to worry about skipping some pages because of some sexually explicit parts so it’s really nice.

I also liked the development of the story, particularly the characters. Joan really grew up and learned how to take charge of hear life instead of being afraid of people leaving her. I kind of felt what she felt because of something that happened in my life. Since then I kind of always hold back because I’m afraid that if I give it all out, I’d get hurt. Joan is also relatable, especially for those who are going through a lot.

However, I find the pacing a bit dragging. There were some instances that I wish it would be over. It’s was interesting in the first few chapters but when you reach middle I kind of felt stuck (did you get that? haha). Like there was no progress in the story at all. It’s nothing to be concerned about, though, if you have all the time in the world.

Another thing is that it lacked the solid emotional connection that I’m looking for. Sure, I can understand why Joan was a bit hesitant to open her heart, but I felt disconnected from her. It’s like I’m watching from a far and that I couldn’t really grasp what’s really the problem for holding back. There was also a part wherein she just found out the major reason her dad left her. But instead of feeling in denial or angry, she just sat there and cry. If it were me, I’d probably cry out in frustration and shout, “My life is one big lie!” She was close to her dad and that was just her reaction? She was like I’m just going to sit here and wallow for a few minutes while my sisters are in the kitchen or wherever. For someone who’s attached to her dad, I think her reaction after finding out the big truth was just too passive in my opinion. But then, again, maybe that’s how the author envisioned her to be. Who knows?

Overall, the story was nice. I’d give it three open books for my rating, but I like that Ms. Smith injecting some spiritual enlightenment in the story. For that reason, I’m giving this four open books. If you want something clean and wholesome, Stuck in the Middle can be an enjoyable one. Just don’t expect any sob fest or drama because this book lacked that element.

P.S.
This is a book series, and Stuck in the Middle is the first one. However, I’m not sure if I’ll be reading Age Before Beauty and Third Time’s a Charm anytime soon. I might in the future, though.

Favorite Quotes: 

Spending time with someone who insisted on being the center of attention was just plain tiring.

Men don’t know what they like. They rely on us to tell them. And you’re going to convince Dr. Gorgeous that he likes tall, athletic, beautiful brunettes.

You could tell a lot about a women by watching her interact with her family.

Keep in mind that 55 percent of the impression you make on someone is based on your appearance and body language, 38 percent on your style of speaking, and only 7 percent on what you say. So what you say doesn’t matter that much, as long as you look good saying it.

You see, our God doesn’t supply only what we need to scrape by. The almighty God is our Father. He loves us. He delights in delighting us. He wants to give us treats and enjoys hearing our joyful laughter in return.

He’ll change us as much as we allow him to.

God said, “I’ll never leave you, nor forsake you.

God had been trying to get her attention and she had ignored him because she was afraid. Afraid of being called a fanatic. Afraid of giving up control. But most of all, afraid of being hurt again.