30 September 2014

Review: Between Us Girls by Sally John

Good Points and Not-so-good

Waitress Jasmyn Albright lives in the tiny town of Valley Oaks, Illinois, in the same house her mother and grandmother lived in. She’s stuck in a rut and knows it, until a catastrophe forces her to makes some life changes—one of which is a vacation in sunny San Diego. But even that doesn’t go according to plan, and she finds herself in the care of Liz, and a temporary resident of the Casa de Vida Cottages, just a few block from the beach.

There were parts of Between Us Girls. I liked, especially the slightly offbeat character of Liz, the intelligent yet shy engineer Samantha, the mysterious Keagan, and Beau, the gentle giant. I also liked the way both Jasmyn and Samantha were able to better come to terms with their family backgrounds, and to begin to develop relationships with God.

But there were things which detracted from my enjoyment, like the way the beginning was rally providing background rather than getting into the story, the way the story moved from Illinois to San Diego with no warning, and the list of residents at the Casa de Vida Cottages—there were a lot of characters to keep straight, and I got lost more than once. I also wasn’t especially keen on Jasmyn. I didn’t know why she’d stayed in Valley Oaks all those years when she said she never fitted in there. I understood why she left (and why she loved San Diego—who wouldn’t), but if she was that unhappy, why hadn’t she left years earlier?

I’m in two minds about Between Us Girls
. The writing was excellent, there was a solid underlying Christian message, and I loved the San Diego setting, but overall I felt it took too long to get going, it was too easy to put down, and the complexities of multiple character relationships made it hard to pick back up again. I can usually finish a novel in a day, or two at the most, but this took me a week.

I’d be interested in knowing what happens next for Jasmyn, Sam and the other Casa de Vida residents, but next time I’d like it to get straight into the story rather than having the first few chapters feel like an extended prologue.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Sally John at her website.

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