Saturday, July 02, 2016

Review of They Danced On by Carrie Armstrong Gardner

Nutshell: As the final book in The Darling Family Series comes to a close, the reader finds Jane Darling, the mother of the Darlings, and her daughter Laura Darling, as the main characters in this book. Jane is struggling with the diagnosis of her husbands terminal illness and also struggling with God as to why He is not healing her husband as the Bible promises. Laura is struggling with her lot in life and why everything is so unfair and the only thing that seems to help her cope with her life is alcohol. With a smattering of the other Darling siblings' journeys, this book mainly focus' on Jane and Laura and how they each seek and find God where they are currently at. 

Pro's: What a great book to wrap up this series! You feel like you have traveled along with this family with all of their struggles and joys throughout all three books. Gardner does a great job wrapping this book up and bringing closure to many of the characters. 

Con's: It seemed to wrap up quickly at the end. Reading along it felt like there was going to be a 4th book, but then it wrapped up quite fast at the end. 

Recommendation: I would recommend readers read the first two books in this series as to understand what the characters have gone through up to this point in the 3rd book. Those who enjoy series books and sweet storylines will enjoy this series.

Tyndale Publishing sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.

Q&A with the Author Carrie Armstrong Gardner:
1. They Danced On is the final book in The Darling Family series. How have the Darlings changed throughout series? The books each focus on different characters in the family, and of course the characters each change in some way. But the Darlings have changed as a family too. Grief is chiefly what has changed them: grief over one family member’s terminal disease, and another member’s addiction. In Book 3, they’ve also said good-bye to another daughter/sister who’s moved away to Africa. So lots of changes for this family. By the end of the final book, grief and good-byes
have deepened and transformed them. In particular, the mother Jane grows in
her faith in Book 3. She’s always believed that God operates on an input/output system: if we ask in faith, God will give us what we want. But now she has to face the realitywith all its accompanying pain and joythat God is deeper and more mysterious than that. She has to grow up. 

2. Life doesn’t always go as expected for the characters in your book (and for us in real life). What are some ways you’ve learned to respond when this happens? Living and working in Russia was a great training ground for this: life hardly ever went as expected there, both in small ways and big. There were constant curve balls; lots of disappointments and also wonderful, unexpected surprises. I learned to roll with it; I had to, in order to save my sanity. When I came back to the States, a pastor friend said, “Wow, Carre, you’re so much less uptight than you used to be!” How’s that for a back-handed compliment? But I took it in the spirit it was intended. I think there are a couple of keys to how to handle life not going as we expected. The first is to get your own expectations out of the way from the start: expectations that you’re going to get what you deserve; that your kids are going to turn out well; that other people are going to live the way they should live. Disappointed expectations are the root of all bitterness. In fact, we are promised very little by God: we are owed even less. When our expectations are low, it clears the way for gratitude. And gratitude is the second key: it has the power to change our outlook on everything. Paul’s injunction to give thanks in everything means that sometimes we have to give thanks even when we don’t understand a situation; even when there seems nothing to be thankful for. It can be a real discipline. Like all disciplines, the gratitude muscle should be exercised during the less-than-dire times. Then, in times of crisis when we need to call on it, the habit will be there. 

1 comment:

Carre Gardner said...

Thanks, Jean, for taking the time to review!