“Yowza!” exclaims Kara Richardson when she sees the handsome proprietor of the new delicatessen in town, Gabe Paolino—who soon expresses mutual interest. This would be the start of a perfect love story, except for one thing—Kara has vowed to stop dating until she feels God’s leading.
But when humorous circumstances send Kara and Gabe on a road trip to Florida, hope springs anew. Even with Kara’s flirtatious coworker Tiffany—“a hyena in heels”—along for the ride, the uncouple begins a lively journey that could change their paths forever.
This memorable, charming story of love’s persistence captures the honor of waiting on God’s timing, and the adventure of finding the perfect guy to not date.
I’m not one to deny myself of chick lit books, especially Christian chick lit. I’ve mentioned it here a couple of times, but not in detail: I love chick lit. I love Christian chick lit, especially, because it’s clean, and it teaches good values that women should have, especially in a media-influenced world. Not that I don’t like secular chick lit — I still do, but I’m picky at what to read. Call me conservative, but I really don’t like reading about how a couple consummates their love, especially if they’re not yet married.
So this book from Trish Perry should just tickle my fancy: it’s chick lit, it’s Christian and it’s about dating and purity. Sounds good, right? Just right up my alley.
It sounds good alright. Kara meets Gabe just some time after she had broken up with her ex-boyfriend Paul, and decided not to date until she feels that it’s God’s will for her. This presents a problem to her since she is very attracted to Gabe, and Gabe admitted that he was attracted to Kara, too. Despite all this, Kara wanted to follow and honor her promise to God so she tells Gabe just that, who respectfully backs down. On the other side of the country, Kara’s parents received a call from their Aunt Addie, requesting a visit. However, things go awry when Kara’s dad breaks his legs, so they had now way to bring drive by Addie and visit Kara. Meanwhile, Gabe’s sister, her boyfriend and her twin brother rides to Virginia to visit Gabe without the permission of their parents so he promises to drive them back to Florida after his deli has set up. Kara, feeling the need to visit her family and pick up Addie on the way, decides to join the trip. Her best friend Ren joins them, as well as Kara’s co-worker and constant pain in the neck, Tiffany. And off they go to Florida, with lots of side trips and the ever increasing attraction between Gabe and Kara.
It’s a cute, wholesome story. If I read this a couple of years ago, I think I may have been enchanted with it and I would have been very thrilled at Kara and Gabe’s love story. But now, I’m not.
I think the main reason why I am quite on the fence with this book is how ideal everything seemed to be in the story. It’s like everyone’s so happy and everything is resolved so quickly. I’m not discounting that God puts everything in place if we follow His will and all, but I am having a very hard time believing the events in the story. It’s fiction, I know, but it just seemed to rosy and cheerful for me. In the sixty chapters of the book, I never found a lasting conflict that made me wonder what was going to happen, one that I’d expect would throw me off course and be surprised and all that. It’s not that I’m expecting so much action here, but I was expecting more complications, to add more depth in the story. For example, in Denise Hildreth‘s Savannah by the Sea, Savannah thinks her romance with Joshua North is a match made in heaven…until she finds out something about his past. In Laura Jensen Walker‘s Dreaming of Black and White, Phoebe had to struggle with her mother and the loss of her dad, even while trying to deny her attraction to her boss, Alex. In Kristin Billerbeck’s Ashley Stockingdale series, Ashley struggles with her family, her job, and even her best friend. I didn’t find enough conflict among the characters in The Guy I’m Not Dating — everyone just seemed to get along just fine, except for the lone villain, Tiffany. I understand that people do grow up in a nice environment — I came from one — but it didn’t feel like much of a book if everyone in the story is so darn happy and gets along well with each other. I bet none of them would ever think of drinking muscle building supplements, especially Kara since she’s a trainer and neither is Gabe, since he seems to be the most perfect guy ever. *rolls eyes*
Another thing that kind of got me thinking a bit too much with this novel is the plot. I have nothing against the concept of the story, which is mostly based on Joshua Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I agree with the idea of not dating, and pursuing friendship first before romance. However, it’s just really hard to believe that everything happened like that. I may be biased because life’s jaded me a bit. Like I said, if I read this book a couple of years ago, I would’ve been smitten with the idea and I would have been dreaming of my own Gabe. It’s not that these things don’t happen, but it just seems too clean cut. This stems back to what I wrote on the previous paragraph — everything and everyone is just so happy, that it gets on my nerves.
It’s not that I don’t believe in God’s perfect timing, or His plans for me and my romantic life. It’s just that if I were a new Christian who’s got her heart broken or is waiting for the one and I read this, I probably would follow this book like a dating bible because it seems like the perfect Christian setting. Which may be the case, but it doesn’t always happen this way. You know how we say that secular media influences our choices a lot, which makes us want to become thinner, more popular or do things that the Bible says is wrong? I kind of feel wary about this novel because to me, it presents another side of the story. We are not always surrounded by Christians. More often than not, we’re with people who do not share the same beliefs as we do, and we have to face it because it’s reality. I fear that reading books like these that present a sort of perfect Christian world and the perfect Christian romance may make women want the exact same thing, and miss out on other things that God has in store for them. I know that I would probably believe this with all my heart if I read this years back, and it would take a lot to rid me of them, especially if I have set my heart to follow that one path of romance.
I’m not saying that this is a bad book. It’s funny, romantic and a good chick lit read, but I think reading this should really involve a lot of discernment. Kara and Gabe’s story is ideal, and it’s something that we women could pray for and hope for, but we must also be open to how God wants to write our love stories.
2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 43 out of 100 for 2010