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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Stranded in Paradise by Lori Copeland~★★1/2

Author: Lori Copeland
Title: Stranded in Paradise
Release Date: September 16th, 2002
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Fiction

Book Cover: "Tess Nelson is poised to take a well-deserved step up the corporate ladder when it's yanked out from under her With no job and nothing to fill her days---just a nonrefundable ticket for a trip to Hawaii---Tess decides a tropical vacation is just what she needs. But Tess's journey to paradise is a disaster from the beginning. First she sprains her ankle at the airport. Then there's the lost contact lens and the lost luggage, the lightning storm at a luau, and the hotel fire. Not to mention the approaching hurricane. And the attractive, annoying young man who keeps crossing her path---and really shaking her up. All Tess wants to do is get her life back under control. But God, it seems, has something else in mind---like opening her heart to everything her life could be."

Taryn's Review: I picked up this book on a beautiful warm day that gave hints of the glorious summer to come. Technically I'm on summer vacation from school, but work is the focal point of my summer. A little tropical escape via a book seemed like a good idea since sitting in an office is my only plan for the summer!

When I checked out this book, I had no idea that it was a Christian book. This in itself did not deter me. What did turn me off was the simplicity of the book. It was written in a very basic manner. For me, it really lacked the complexity that a strong writer can bring to such a book. Also, Copeland had the book moving at super speed levels with no character development. She tried to tie in bigger themes, but it just didn't work. The book also had one character slip up when she said her house was built by her late husband, but later she said her mother left them the house.

The way that Copeland had the Christian characters bringing God to the main character was so stereotypical of what people believe Christian books are and why they choose not to pick them up. I'm not saying that it wasn't good that the characters open up their beliefs to Tess. In real life, however, someone who was adamantly against God and God's teaching probably would have shut down when some old woman started saying in it was "meant to be" that they all met. Was the point that Tess was ready to open her heart to God and they were just the mechanism God used? I didn't feel like Tess really had to be convinced of anything and the supporting characters simply threw around their beliefs a few times and voila! Tess changed! I only stress this because the author wanted us to believe that Tess had a horrible childhood with a verbally abusive mother and a drunk for a father and Copeland played up Tess's unwillingness to trust. Yet Tess easily forgave her mother after years of pain and hurt when her mother performed a simple nice gesture, but Tess chose to not forgive her employer after he realized he made the wrong choice and apologized profusely. That doesn't make sense to me. And let me not get started on how Carter and Tess apparently fell in love throughout this "ordeal." It seemed really forced and not natural, but that could be Copeland's flaw since character development was weak.

This was a hard book for me to review because I felt badly for not liking a Christian novel, but I also wanted to be fair and critique all books in the same way. I admired the goal here and I appreciated that Copeland wanted to write a light-hearted Christian narrative. But ultimately, the book was very underwhelming. I would not pick up a novel by Copeland again. I'll give Christian literature a try in the future sometime, but I wouldn't recommend this one to read, Christian or not.

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