Monday, May 16, 2011

"Leaving" Review

Leaving by Karen Kingsbury was sent to me by Zondervan Publishing through a blog tour. It is the first in the ‘Bailey Flannigan’ series by this author.
Bailey Flannigan is a college student in Bloomington, Indiana (since I am a Purdue girl, I won’t mention which school…). She has dreams of performing on Broadway and has just landed the audition of a lifetime for the musical Hairspray in New York City. While she is excited about this opportunity, Bailey is anxious about leaving her beloved home and family in the Midwest. She also has reservations about her former boyfriend, Cody, who broke things off with her without much of an explanation.
Cody Coleman knows that his decision to end things with Bailey was for her best. He moves to Indianapolis to be closer to his mother and to pursue a job as an assistant high school football coach. While Cody’s life seems to be headed in the right direction, he still can’t get Bailey out of his mind and heart.
This first book in a series of four sets the stage for the tale of Bailey Flannigan and her adventures in New York and also with the major decisions that take place in the life of a 20-year-old.
Let me say from the start that this is the first Karen Kingsbury book that I have ever read. I know that some of you will think that it is just wrong for me to claim to be a fan of Christian fiction when I have not read Karen Kingsbury! My defense is that up until now, I mostly stuck to Christian historical fiction, and I’m pretty sure that Karen Kingsbury writes contemporary novels. (Feel free to correct me if I am wrong).
Since this is my first novel by this author, please bear with me for the review. I received this book through a blog tour, and I was told that it was the first in a new series. Imagine my surprise when I discover that the characters in this book have already been established in three or four other series based on the Baxter/Flannigan families. I felt as if I was starting a movie halfway through or trying to watch a TV show drama that had already been on for three seasons. I was confused. I have to say, though, that the author did a pretty good job of catching me up on what I needed to know in the lives of the characters. However, there were so many characters to keep straight from the very beginning of the book that I felt as if a family tree listing somewhere in the book would have been very helpful.
As far as the content and story of the book, I thought it was okay. Again, I have not read any of Karen Kingsbury’s other series, so I have nothing to compare to. I felt that the author did very well incorporating faith in God into all areas of the characters’ lives. However, the ‘tests’ of faith in Bailey’s life were not very relatable. Bailey’s struggles mostly revolved around taking a role on Broadway or continuing to star in movies in Hollywood. She also has three guys who are interested in her… Cody (who seems to be an average Joe), Brandon (a Hollywood movie star), and Matt (a player for the Indianapolis Colts). I don’t know about you, but I was a college student (and a Christian) at a school in Indiana (Go, Purdue!), and my opportunities for a career or for dating didn’t quite reach that high! (No offense, honey! You are better for me than any movie or NFL star!!!)
There was also another storyline about the characters of Landon and Ashley, who are characters in the Baxter family and are from the previous series. While their story helps to continue the story of the Baxter family, I’m not sure why it was really included in this book. It seemed out of place. I’m sure it would have fit better if I had read the previous books, which I apparently need to do! J
I can’t say that I was too excited about this book after I finished it. Maybe it is just the set up novel for the next three to come. I wouldn’t mind reading them, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. However, if you are a fan of Karen Kingsbury, and especially if you have read the previous series, I’m sure you will enjoy this new one. If you are a fan and read this book, please comment and let me know what you think. I’m sure you can be a better judge than I can!
Because of my confusion with the backgrounds of the characters and because of a hard-to-relate-to storyline, I will give Leaving … 2 ½ BookWorms.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received this book free from Zondervan Publishing for a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. Sara,

    I have to agree with you on a lot of what you said. I have read ALL of Karen Kingsbury novels, and I have to say that this is one of my least favorites. Bailey has been in all of the previous series (Redemption series, Above the Line, and another one I can't remember right now!). This is the first character that I really can't seem to connect with. I just finished reading Leaving, and I will still read the others in the series, but it didn't grab me like the other books did. I also agree with your thoughts about Landon and Ashley. It felt like she wanted to continue the Baxter storyline, and just kind of plopped it in this series. I still love Karen as an author (probably one of my favorites), but this book left a lot to be desired. Thanks for your reviews. I would definitely recommend reading the first Baxter series. I found those to be very well written!

  2. I love Karen's novels, but I really think it's time to give up on these characters and get some new ones. I'll still read the book though.


  3. First off...thank you so much for following my blog! I'm going to click "follow" on yours just as soon as I write this comment.

    If you ever get the chance, try going back to read the series that started it all called The Redemption Series. KK co-wrote that with Gary Smalley (author of The Five Love Languages), and those 5 books, by far, are some of the best in contemporary CF. I remember 3 of the books were already out when I started reading them, and I just read one right after the other...literally. :o) The second series, Firstborn, was good, but not as good b/c she took off with those on her own (no co-author). Next up was the Sunrise series, then the Above the Line series, and now there's the newest series where you started called the Bailey Flanigan series. A lot to keep up with, huh? I've slacked off some from reading them (last one I read was the first book in the ATL series), but I know I'll catch up some day. :o)