Tuesday, April 28, 2015

SECRETS: Shhhhh......Kyle's Here, Baby.

What even happens in this book?
He's like Jesus with an axe.
Twenty-five-year-old Jessica Morgan decides to peace out on her wealthy heiress lifestyle and hightail it to the small town of Glenbrook, Oregon, presumably to be anonymous and quaint and do quaint things like drink tea, garden and teach poetry to polite high schoolers. Her plans go awry when, while driving into town for the first time, Satan takes control of her car and she barrel rolls into a ditch. Never fear, readers. Kyle, her hot, savior firefighter rescues the crap out of her. After hitting on her at the accident site, Kyle lightly stalks our heroine until she finally tells him to back up off. They reconcile when he rescues her (seeing a pattern, here?) as she is stranded on a Mexican highway because, yet again, she is unable to keep a vehicle on the road. Jessica also becomes saved (in the Biblical sense) on her personal “Road to El Damascus-o” which means she and Kyle can now be equally yoked. Unfortunately, they can’t truly be together yet because Kyle knows Jessica has a secret conflict with her dad but has no idea what that issue is. Kyle. Does. Not. Care. He tells Jessica to get her secretive butt to LA and reconcile with Papa Morgan OR ELSE (he will forever withhold his love). She does as she is told, cashes out her stock options, and heads back to her man. She reveals her super-secret monies by handing Kyle a check for $500,000. He does not take it well. He rips the check up and makes her eat it. And yet, in the end, they are able to overcome Jessica’s extreme affluence, and together, in Christ, the forge ahead with no secrets.
There is a lot of questionable behavior in Glenbrook. This is where we judge it all.
Mmm, dinner.
1.  Poor Planning Leading to StarvationJessica nearly starves to death due to her lax runaway planning. Seriously, one of her dinners was 5 burnt slices of a zucchini she found in her yard. Another was one hardboiled egg. (This might be a pro-Ana book).
2.  Teri the Pastor’s Daughter: Jessica befriends a sassy Latina Spanish teacher, Teri, who—according to Jessica—has disproportionately large thighs. (Thanks, Jessica) Many things in this book highlight the 1990's vibe, but this truly sets the context of the story in a pre-Beyonce/Kardashian world. Oh, Thick-Thighs Teri. Teri tries to convert Jessica to Christianity in several awkward, cringe-worthy conversations, which were all too familiar
Elise: Uggggh, Teri trying to witness to Jessica.

Angie: Oh I know. The classic well-meaning, idiot Christian who does not know how to relate to others outside of her subculture.

Elise: I got second-hand embarrassment remembering being that person, I think? I mean, I was never as bad as Teri, but I, too, went on a mission trip to an overwhelmingly Catholic nation.

3.  Semi-Racist Missions Trip to Mexico: This is a whole other post, but we both had to side eye the fact that they let Jessica, a nonbeliever, chaperone a church missions trip for teens.

Angie: No way in hell anyone would let a heathen chaperone a church mission trip. Well, maybe a trip to actual Hell if they needed a translator.

            Elise:  Oh yeah, for realz.

Save us!!!
4.  RJG Doesn’t Quite “Get” AIDS: Kyle’s former fiancée died from AIDS a few months after they got engaged. Turns out his fiancée had sex ONE TIME with a high school quarterback and BAM! AIDS! Just bypassed HIV and dove right into full blown AIDS. Because THAT’S what happens when you have premarital sex, children. RJG definitely did her part to bring awareness to how the AIDS epidemic devastated white suburban teenagers in the Pacific Northwest.

Precious Moments: 
Our favorite quotes...
"And every night, when Jessica was alone, she was fighting the Kyle-fire spreading in her heart."

Random high school girl: “If I thought a guy like Kyle might be waiting for me—intact—when I finished school, I never would’ve done it with Andy.”

Teri: “‘I really care about you, Jess. I don’t want you to go to hell.’ The night was silent except for the distant barking of a dog.”

Jessica, I know you're hungry, but...
Conspiracy Theories: 
We tell you what's really going down in Glenbrook.
Angie: Secrets is a retelling of the Citizen Kane + the Patty Hearst story. Just add a heavy dash of Jesus and remove The Symbionese Liberation Army and Rosebud.
Elise: Kyle has Munchausen by Proxy. He clearly enjoys helping people. To the point where we began to wonder if he “helps” people. Jessica sure had a lot of car problems, but only when Kyle was around to rescue her. Jessica’s file at work “mysteriously” disappeared, holding up her paycheck and making her financially vulnerable. It disappeared right after Kyle showed up on Jessica’s first day at school... Kyle showed anger only once in the entire book, when he realized Jessica was rich and, therefore, had power. In that moment he became enraged by her independence. I worry for Jessica in the future. I wonder if Kyle is going to bring her a “special glass of milk” every night before bed to help with those “awful dizzy spells” that started as soon as they got married. “Isn’t it such a good thing that I married you before you got sick, Jess? You need to be taken care of, and just imagine if I wasn’t here to keep you safe. Finish all your milk now!”  

Final Judgement:
Is it worth the $0.01 on Amazon?

One of Kyle's first victims?
First half of the book was perfectly charming and pleasant, like a fresh-faced Mormon missionary. Second half of the book is where you realize that Mormon missionary is not going to leave until he tells you all about Heavenly Father. In the end, you sympathize with Jessica and want her to eat a decent meal, but you can’t quite shake the feeling that maybe, just maybe, Kyle’s a sociopath.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

We Have Secrets...

Secrets has arrived.

With a Lord of the Rings style map of the fictional Glenbrook, OR.

Yeaaaaaaahhhh, son.

This is the real deal.

Stay tuned for the mayhem that is...


Monday, April 13, 2015

God Love

Ah, Christian romance novels. There really is nothing like them. When your Baptist school library carries Rebecca’s
Christians LOVE the Amish.
instead of Moby Dick, you develop a taste for stories about redeemed whores and pioneer widowers whose log cabins are just crying out for a woman’s touch. Friends, it is time to for us to revisit those PG beach reads.

Who: We are two sisters who grew up attending the same K-12 evangelical school, swapping copies of Christian romance novels and Sweet Valley Twins books before some blessed soul slipped us a copy of East of Eden. Elise, an (almost) psychologist, and Angie, an (almost) writer and English lecturer, will guide you through the wonderful world of romance—Jesus-style.

Put those pecs away!
What: How can you take a genre known for bodice-ripping and extramarital boning and rework the tropes for a staunchly religious, conservative audience? Oh, child, you are about to find out. We’ll recap a book for you in each post and share our instant message conversations about said title. There will be wit. There will be sarcasm. There will be tales from our Christian school days. And there will be blood. Too much?

Why: Because Elise stole a copy of one of Angie’s Robin Jones Gunn books, and now they’re both trying to make meaning out of the betrayal. We’re starting with Robin Jones Gunn, or the Notorious RJG, mostly because she authored the stolen book—Sunsets—part of the Glenbrook series. There are millions, MILLIONS! of Christian romance novels, and this blog is going to last forever, so we’ll get to all of them. All. Of. Them. These books make us very nostalgic, but we also think it’ll be interesting to see how they hold up after we’ve exited the evangelical bubble and have learned about things such as feminism, differing viewpoints, and accessory alternatives to WWJD bracelets. And to be completely honest, we have a desire to ignore more pressing professional tasks, so why not.

And so it begins:

Elise: Hey did I tell you I'm really excited about the blog idea and really think we should do it?!

Angie:  I'm 100% on board. Unfortunately one of my Glenbrook novels has been taken...by you!

Elise:  Umm more like two. So I will have to return them and also purchase Whispers [She means Secrets #1] I have Echoes and Waterfalls.

Angie:  Whispers is first, right?

Elise:  Yeees! [No, no it was not. Again, it’s Secrets] and it has the classic Christian lady archetype "The woman with the flaw of not accepting help." And I want you to read them again, because there is specifically a scene where they talk about "being saved," and it's much more theologically conservative than I am, but it was a nice example of how not to be an asshat when talking about what you believe. BUT I'm getting off track, because that is waaaay down the line. Whispers [NO! IT’S SECRETS!] is the first one I read. I stole it from you in middle school and began a lifelong pattern.

Angie:  How does it feel to steal Christian books? Is that complicated for you?

Elise:  It isn't! It feels like balance, but the things I steal from you never count because of our blood bond.
Blood bond!