Review: Stuck in the Middle, by Virginia Smith

Stuck in the Middle, by Virginia Smith (Revell, 2008)

Joan Sanderson is a middle child—between two sisters who have great lives while she works a mediocre job and shares a home with her mother and aging grandmother. She feels caught between those two ladies too, and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep Mom from putting Gram into a care facility. After all, what’s a little forgetfulness—or obsessive behaviour—among loved ones?

Joan is also on middle ground with God. He feels like a heavenly version of her own father, who’s been absent without contact for thirteen years.

When a handsome single doctor, Ken, and his dog move in next door, Joan finds herself competing with her polished younger sister, Tori, for his attention. Will their frenzied flirting scare him away? Or does Joan really want to catch his eye? He talks about God outside of church. Even asks questions in the adult Sunday school class. Is he some kind of fanatic? Or does he have something Joan needs?

She can’t stop thinking about a visiting missionary’s account of God answering an orphan child’s prayer for chocolate ice cream. The God she knows has never done anything like that for her. Granted she’s never asked, and her needs aren’t as extreme as the lonely orphan, but still… something inside her longs for Him to disrupt her predictable world with some outrageous and personal sign of love. (For more on that, see Virginia Smith’s blog post, “Where’s My Chocolate Ice Cream?”)

Stuck in the Middle is more than just a heart-warming romance. Joan is 25 but I think it’s a coming of age tale for her. It’s also the story of three generations of women who love one another even when they’re on opposite sides. Surprisingly, it’s not over-the-top estrogen-heavy. Sure, the flirting instructions Joan’s older sister Allie pulled off the internet were a bit much for this non-girly-girl reader, but Ken thought so too.

And it’s funny. Joan’s sense of humour keeps her sane by imagining zany headlines to describe her stress. I like her attitude, and the way she grows during the course of the novel.

I downloaded a free electronic copy of Stuck in the Middle from Christianbook.com and enjoyed the read. There were occasional formatting issues with paragraphs, but not often and nothing to affect enjoyment of the novel. This is book one in the Sister-to-Sister series, followed by Age Before Beauty and Third Time’s a Charm. I’d definitely like to spend some more time with this family.

Virginia Smith is an award-winning American author and inspirational speaker. You can learn more about Ginny and her books on her website and her blog, Virginia’s Journal, and you can find her on Facebook.

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