I'm finally reviewing a book that I have been waiting a while to read, Where Do I Go? by Neta Jackson. Neta is the author of the popular Yada Yada Prayer Group series. Since I finished the last book in the YYPG series, I've been waiting for this book to come out. Then I waited some more because I put the book on my birthday and Christmas list. Then by the time I used my B&N gift card, I was in middle of another book...
When I first started at B&B, I did some work on a non-fiction book by Neta and her husband Dave entitled No Random Act. Then a couple of years later, I was publicist on the first three Yada Yada books before her publisher, Integrity was bought by Thomas Nelson.
I think we were working on the third book when my parents and I decided to go to Chicago on vacation. I told Neta that we were coming up to Chicago, and she said that we should meet for pizza at Gulliver's, a restaurant she writes about in her books. I'm not sure how, but I talked my parents into going along with this plan. Meeting up with strangers in a strange city isn't something that any of us regularly do, but we all met up and had a blast. We were all really glad that we had the opportunity.
I had seen pictures of Neta, so I knew what she looked like, but she had never seen me. I remember her saying that she thought I was going to have dark hair. Below is a picture of the Jacksons and my family. I didn't crop it so that you could see the inside of Gulliver's, especially if you have ever read the books. The places is like a mini museum.
On that trip to Chicago, we missed the Hershey's store on Michigan Avenue being open by one week, and Mom saw a Hershey's tin with Chicago on it in the window. Among other things she collects tins (I had to "Russian Doll" all those tins on Friday night so that she could pack them 2 boxes instead of six.). So, once we got back, for Mom's birthday, Neta went down to the Hershey store, bought it for me and shipped it to Texas.
So, enough of my personal stories, and back to the book. I'll start with the description from the back of the book:
Gabrielle Fairbanks has nearly lost touch with the carefree, spirited young woman she was when she married her husband sixteen years ago. But when the couple moves to Chicago to accommodate Philip’s ambition, Gabby longs for the chance to find real purpose in her own life.
A chance encounter with a homeless woman suddenly opens a door she never expected. The women of Manna House Women’s Shelter need a Program Director—and she has the right credentials. Gabby’s in her element, feeling God’s call on her life at last, even though Philip doesn’t like the changes he sees in her. But she never anticipated his ultimatum: quit your job at the shelter or risk divorce and losing custody of our sons.
In this moment, Gabby’s entire foundation shifts. She must find refuge, as in the song they sing at Sunday worship: “Where do I go when there’s no one else to turn to... I go to the Rock I know that’s able, I go to the Rock.”
For everyone who loves the best-selling Yada Yada Prayer Group® novels comes a brand new story sprinkled with familiar faces and places from the Yada Yada world.
And now my review. Let me start by saying that I enjoy Neta's books, and usually devour them quickly. This book was no different in that I had a hard time not being able to read straight through it without stopping, and now I can't wait to read the next book in the series when it comes out this fall to see what happens next.
However, I didn't enjoy this book in the same way that I did the others, but I will tell you why. I've mentioned with the last couple of books that I have read, that something in each book ends up hitting me in a place that I'm working through. There are some things about Gabby that remind me of myself, and I don't really like seeing things about myself.
Gabby doubts and second guesses herself way too much when she really shouldn't. Her fear of confrontation rules her and really keeps her from working out her problems. Her husband is an insensitive, world-class jerk, and I wanted to yell at him and hit him really hard upside the head. Her oldest son is almost as bad as her husband, and she needed to snatch him up by the ear and teach him some respect. How Gabby was treated by those around her was not OK, and she needed to stand up for herself. I wanted to direct her to a counselor and get the woman some help.
OK, that was my rant. Poor Gabby was doing the best she could with moving to a new city, adjusting to being away from her sons, dealing with her husband's snotty new business partner and his wife, a diva of a husband (what do you call a male diva?) who blames her for everything (including getting seasick), a new job, and an elderly mother who can no longer take care of herself. No wonder she felt like the life was being sucked out of her.
I was telling Jenny that I needed to write up a review for the book, and gave her a quick run through of everything that happened and told her, "this book really frustrated me because it made me anxious to read and really quite angry."
Jenny responded back, "she must really be a good writer in order to make you feel that emotion by reading a book." And Jenny is exactly right about that, and I told her I was going to include her comment. That really does show a great author and a great book, when you are that drawn into the characters and the story.
So just because I didn't laugh through this book like I did the YYPG books, doesn't mean that I didn't like it because I did.
Here's another observation. Jodi Baxter, who narrated the YYPG series makes an appearance in this book as well. Jodi seems like a much stronger, more confident woman in this book than she did in the series. I took a lesson out of that. People see us much differently than we see ourselves. In reality, it's possible that others recognize our strengths more than they do our weaknesses. Now, if we could only do the same for ourselves.
I have to read another book that I signed up to post about next, but then I'm going to read Dave's book, Harry Bentley's Second Chance, which is actually a parallel novel to this one. (Mr. Bentley is the doorman at the high rise where Gabby lives and becomes one of her first friends in Chicago.) For more information about what that means and about both books, visit http://www.daveneta.com/.