I have been a fan of Robin Jones Gunn for many years, and couldn't wait to read her latest book, Canary Island Song. I confess, I am not a big fan of most Christian fiction. Sometimes I really disagree with the shaming messages. Other times, I just suspect that the lousy story was excused because of a superficial religious cloak. Robin Jones Gunn is not in that category. Her stories are real, and they are filled with hope and grace. Canary Island Song is no exception.
Carolyn has spent the last seven years since her husband's death trying to hold things together for the rest of her family. She steps into a new season of life with a trip to the Canary Islands to visit her mother. While there, she encounters Bryan Spencer, the first guy to whom she ever gave herself. As she heals and grows, she learns to dance from the stomach up, living life fully and openly.
I love the richness of relationship shared by all these women. They celebrate each other, and eventually, themselves. The lovely friendship between Carolyn and her daughter Tikki reminds me of Sally and Sarah Clarkson. These Women of the Canaries are true Sisterchicks, and the way they interact reminded me of the amazing women God has placed in my life. This was my favorite part of the book.
One of the themes throughout Robin's books is sexual purity. I love the way Carolyn's mother responds when Carolyn finally opens up about her night on the beach as a teen with Bryan Spencer. The love and grace are a beautiful portrayal of how Jesus responds to us. Few authors can walk the line of a Christian perspective on sexual purity without shaming, and Robin does it with grace.
Each chapter opens with an appropriate Spanish refrán, which I enjoyed tremendously. There were a couple of places where I had minor quibbles with some of the Spanish phrases used by the characters, but the character portrayals were brilliant. In particular, Tía Freida was spot-on, and I could easily imagine the tías, abuelas and other beloved women in my life in these Women of the Canaries. I especially loved the lesson of the flamenco, and the tradition of congratulating women who show themselves a kindness. The food descriptions were great, too! :)
Fans of the Christy Miller books will enjoy getting to see Todd's dad starring in his own romance. While the fulfillment of the early promise in Bryan and Carolyn's relationship is charming, it never takes away from Carolyn's journey of healing, and discovering the depths of God's love and freedom. It has all the realness and sweetness of tropical fruit ripened on the tree.
This book has some important messages, but they are woven in so effortlessly that it remains a light and easy read. If you are looking for a book to take to the beach, or just to make you feel as though you have been to the islas, Canary Island Song will bring a lovely ocean breeze and a happy melody to your heart.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. My opinions are completely my own.