Thursday, July 16, 2015

SUNSETS: If You Don’t Have a Friend With Boundary Issues, It’s You.

Synopsis
What even happens in this book?


Alissa's wore short skirts, Christy wore
parachute pants.
In Sunsets we get two Robin Jones Gunn B-plot characters for the price of one. Alissa (the slutty cautionary tale from the Christy Miller series) and Brad (computer nerd brother of sad-sack Lauren from Echoes) find the truest love there is... the love of convenience. Yes, in this epic romance, Alissa and Brad are duplex neighbors who fall in love because the best major life commitments are the one’s you gradually slide into.


The book starts with Alissa reflecting on her troubled teen years, blaming herself for when her mom’s abusive drunken behavior caused her to miss one birth control pill, immediately get pregnant, lose the baby’s father in a surfing accident, and have to give her baby up for adoption. That’s what you get for being an attractive female with sexual agency, Alissa! In the sexy present, Alissa is now a travel agent in her late 20s with no friends, family or community. Her virginal friend Christy led Alissa to Christ in her teens (in an evangelizing move that I’m sure was 100% appropriate in light of Alissa’s recent horrific losses), but after experiencing sexual harassment from a pastor at her church in her early 20s, she’s closed the door on letting anyone into her life.


This door is blown open in a cloud of dorito dust and Mountain Dew burps in the worst meet cute of all time, when a rude IT guy (Brad) yells at her and then secretly gives her a lead on an available duplex. Not wanting to ask questions in this market, Alissa rents the duplex and immediately connects with her new roommate (Shelley, foreshadowing for another RJG book down the line?!)via rad, wicker furniture, her wistfully tragic landlady (Genevieve, foreshadowing for another RJG book down the line?!), and her two goofy college guy neighbors, Jake (Foreshadowing for another RJG book down the line?!) and Brad. While Alissa starts letting people into her life, she becomes...disturbingly enamored with an elderly couple (Chet and Rosie) whose honeymoon she helps plan. In between stalking the two octogenarians, Alissa and Brad go on a zany road trip to Glenbrook (they lose Alissa’s cat! Brad forgets to order Alissa a taco! Alissa gets poison ivy!). This love story for the ages finally culminates in Brad asking Alissa to marry him, because he mistakenly thinks she’s dying of cancer. Alissa, inexplicably says yes, before realizing the mistake and informing Brad that her CAT is the one with cancer. Then somehow they end up together anyway after all of that? Probably because it was either start dating or move out of the duplex.


Wait...whaaaa?
There’s a lot of questionable behavior in Glenbrook. This is where we judge it all.


Rosie’s friend Meg was described as traveling from the mid-west to San Francisco after V-Day to meet the
Meg's wedding day.
sailors at the docks and “get a husband.”  Is this code for Meg banging like a million sailors at the docks post WWII?


After Alissa moves in with her new roommate Shelly, Shelly tells her two weeks later that she’s actually moving back to Oregon. Alissa immediately bursts into tears, before running out of the living room and locking herself in her bedroom for a few hours. Bet you $200 that Shelly thought, “I made a good decision”


Brad and Alissa go on the road trip to Glenbrook to move sad-sack Lauren’s antique furniture up to her new life with KC in Oregon. An hour into the drive Alissa says she can’t take a driving shift because she “accidentally” forget her glasses. Was she just being crafty? Did Brad know this and “forget” to order her a taco later at the rest stop for this very reason? So much subtext, you guys.


How bad of a lady boner did Alissa have for Brad to offer to host his sister for a week AND to move her shit from Southern California to Oregon? I don’t care if she schemed her way out of driving, that’s still pretty thirsty.


How have Alissa’s dreams of being a charity travel agent at her own firm worked out post internet boom?


Should Alissa have given Chloe cat chemo? She at least should have asked her vet about it and then made the call.


Could Brad and Alissa hear each other fart through the walls of the duplex?


Precious Moments:
Our favorite quotes...


Opening line of book jacket: “Here’s a terrific romance from some of your favorite characters from Secrets and Echoes.” It’s better if you do what I do and imagine Doris Day narrating.


“Alissa’s live-in companion was a cat named Chloe, and her favorite weekend pastime was reading. At twenty-six she was living the life of a sixty-year-old.” I wonder how RJG’s world was turned upside when she saw non-pathetic representations of single women on Sex in the City. (the TNT version without any of the dirty parts).


Alissa’s idea of fun lady-time chatting: “I like your wicker furniture. I have some just like it.” “I like your garden themed wallpaper, it’s so homey.” “This tea is good.”

PET scan of Alissa's brain


Conspiracy Theories
We tell you what’s really going down in Glenbrook.


Elise: Alissa is a stalker. 
Chet and Rosie are an elderly couple who seek Alissa’s help at the beginning of the book to plan their honeymoon. Alissa becomes obsessed with the story of how they fell in love decades ago, but the timing never allowed them to be together until now. Alissa, continues to bother this poor couple as they are trying to plan their wedding and enjoy the like,,, three days of happily married life they can expect at their age. She shows up to their wedding that she was verbally invited to the day prior, she drops by unannounced a few days after their honeymoon, and then she tries to set up a lunch date with Rosie, but when Rosie invites other people Alissa is “annoyed.” These are all weird, weird things.


There is nothing I could say
that could make this photo funnier.
Angie: Brad is a Pickup Artist, possible MRA (Men’s Rights Activist)
While RJG seems to praise Brad for his childlike honesty, I believe something more sinister is afoot. He’ll tell Alissa she’s beautiful in the same breath that he tells her she’s 30 pounds overweight. Any time she tries to walk away, he flips the scenario and asks, “Why are you always pushing people away?” There is a certain breed of man that embodies these traits—backhanded compliments (aka negging), putting responsibility for rejection of male back on the female (aka “You don’t want to go out with me? There’s must be something terribly wrong with you, woman. Surely me or my character isn’t to blame”). Brad acts as a puppet master, securing her the other side of his duplex, sending travel agent clients her way—all out of the “goodness of his heart,” I’m sure. “I’m the reason you got your apartment, Alissa. Why aren’t you more grateful?” “You think you can walk away, after all I sent clients over to you? Not happening, Alissa.” “I got you a diet coke, Alissa. You owe me…your soul.” Our only hope for Alissa is that she someday stumbles upon a website that reveals MRAs/PUA’s for what they are: dudes who blame women for rejecting them, which is weird because how can an object reject you?


Final Judgement
Is it worth the $0.01 on Amazon?
"Want to get married?"
"Ok, why not?"

Sunsets is the crazy pants book that started this blog, so I can’t judge it too harshly. These characters and their love for wicker furniture and blase small-talk made me want to dive head first back into the world of Glenbrook. Alissa’s a loner like sad-sack Lauren was but she’s at least trying to get her shit together. Alissa has a lot crap to heal from but like… she not making a big THING about it. She’s owning her journey, and I respected that. I also liked how her story addressed that people can be hurt and abused by the church. Bold move for a Christian Romance novel, RJG! Brad is a decent love-interest. He seems to bring out a sense of sassy fun in Alissa, and he talks to middle school boys about keeping their virginity, so hooray for subverting gender norms there! He also has enough human decency to NOT be the person that tells Alissa her dead parents are going to hell the second he learns she has dead parents (UNLIKE JAKE). He’s not a dick about her cat. He’s not a dick about her having a baby as a teen and giving the baby up for adoption. Jake would have been like “your baby is going to HELL!” Brad also first had a crush on Alissa when she was chubbier, so that was cool. Overall, Sunsets is a pretty cute. If you ended up marrying your next door neighbor, you’ll probably relate to this story. I’d say Whispers is still the high-water mark of a good love story in the Glenbrook series, but Sunsets at least doesn’t give you a temporary depressive episode like Echos did.

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