Christ's Glory, Not Mine

by science fiction author Andrea J. Graham

Review: Around the World in 80 Dates

Around the World in 80 Dates: Confessions of a Christian Serial Dater

As my little note says, my husband and I spent a couple months going round and round with various hosts trying to get our domain functional, hence the major reason for the huge gap in our history. I also got flooded/burned out on my book reviewing and way behind right at the same time. But we’re starting to get back on track.

I probably shouldn’t have agreed to review Around the World in 80 Dates by Christa Ann Banister. The main character, Sydney Alexander is the type of got-it-all-together starbucks-craving shoe-buying career woman that infertile-work-at-home-without-pay-wives like me feel uncomfortable (read: inferior) around. From what I gathered from the bio, the plot is loosely based on the author’s own dating shennigans, making me  uncomfortable with commenting on it, other than to say it reads like a dating don’t, which I’m sure was partly the idea. Makes me glad I skipped the whole business and married my best friend, but probably too glad, if you know what I mean.

It also reads like a writing don’t, but in a cute, hippie-next-door, buck-the-conventions sorta way. The first person works great; the passages where Sydney tells us her sister’s business (and her sister’s male acquaintances’ business) when she’s not there from third person whatever, was a little too, ah, trendy for me. Just call me a staid find-a-POV-and-stick-with-it gal (those who’ve been reading or writing more than a decade will see the humor in this. POV is a relatively new standard)

So long as you’re not jealous, or too busy thinking her globe-trotting travel writer lifestyle a little too worldly, Syd is easy to love (and hard to hate even if you do.) The story does raise for me the old question of where is the happy medium between legalism and the can’t-tell-you’re–a-Christian-unless-the-topic-is-Jesus-or-saving-sex-for-marriage-if-that-ism that so flourishes today. If you find it, let me know.

I don’t know, maybe it was all of Sydney’s friends training to be missionaries that had me wondering about how much stuff we buy without even thinking about the little kid walking to school barefoot in the snow without so much as a winter coat in some mountain village (thanks to World Vision for putting that image in my head). But when we do think about it, we usually send them a boat load of cash. That’s one thing I love about America. We’re stinking filthy rich (in comparison to the rest of the world) but generally rich towards others, too. Though our government would be advised to invest more in teaching fishing than handing out fish, but that’s another story.

Overall, the biggest challenge was, evidently, word count, though it didn’t seem too long to me, the author seemed rushed towards the end. Sydney’s revelation and all that follow it deserved more ink than it got. Entertaining and humorous, even thought provoking, but in one way, it’s greatest strength–attention to detail–almost becomes it’s greatest weakness. That’s the challenge in converting real life to fiction; figuring out how much detail is necessary to the plot. Life is usually a lot more complicated than any writer could dream up.