Melody Carlson’s books have a special place in my heart. I feel like I’ve “always” been reading them, when in fact, my history with Carlson’s books only dates back about five years, to my senior year of college. After reading the 86 Bloomberg Place books, I quickly moved on to the Dear Daphne series. After that point, I started hunting for her books at the public library (she has a ton) and I’m still nowhere near having read them all, though I have read quite a few. When I saw her newest release Looking for Leroy available for review, I was excited to request the title.
- Author: Melody Carlson
- Publisher: Revell (Baker Book House)
- Available Now
- Synopsis: Brynna takes herself by surprise when she agrees to join Jan, her co-worker, on a cross-country trailer camping trip. When Jan hears about Brynna’s high-school camp romance with a guy named Leroy, she’s determined to track him down and reunite the long-separated couple.
- Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. Opinions expressed are my own.
There is a light thread about God’s plans, interwoven with references to “kismet” (Two of the characters are trying to convince Brynna to do something she doesn’t want to and one of the characters attributes the opportunity to God, or kismet). Then, after praying about the opportunity, Brynna feels more at peace and decides that this may indeed be part of God’s plan.
Throughout the book, Brynna finds herself turning to God more frequently in prayer, placing her situation in His hands and putting her trust in Him.
Brynna notices a verse from Proverbs cross-stitched on a decoration in the home and briefly considers its meaning.
There are references to other characters also believing in God and praying. We also witness a meaningful interaction between Brynna and another character about the biblical Ruth. This conversation strongly influences her subsequent actions.
What I Liked
- In a December 2021 review, Amy Scott described Melody Carlson’s Christmas books as having “the same vibes of a Hallmark movie,” which was why she ended up reading some Christmas novellas, rather than watching a bunch of Hallmark movies. (In fact, one of Melody Carlson’s semi-recent books, The Happy Camper is being adapted into a Hallmark movie.) I agree with Amy Scott’s description. Carlson’s standalone romances do often read like Hallmark movies, which makes them a fun treat. I read this one the Saturday of spring break, but I think it would make a great summer/beach read, given the summer setting.
- I liked the initial premise of the novel. It was a fun twist to watch Brynna become friends with Jan, who is actually something of a work supervisor (Brynna teaches third grade; Jan is the school VP). At the beginning of the novel, Brynna is one of the few employees who is kind and respectful to Jan, nicknamed “Seargent Bart” by the rest of the staff. But, like the others, she’s a bit intimidated by Jan. So, it was entertaining to see the two hit the road together for a surprise vacation.
- Although at first I preferred to read Brynna’s perspective, I ended up enjoying the double narration, which alternated between Brynna and Leroy’s perspectives. This definitely added to the interest as the characters’ paths came closer to crossing.
- The gardening scenes were fun! I liked reading about how Brynna considered gardening to be a treat and made up fun stories as she was weeding. What a great idea!
- The antagonist (though that may be too strong of a word) was pretty funny. I kept laughing at the ridiculous things she would say and do. In many ways, she reminded me of the step-mom from Disney’s Cinderella. The novel is not at all a Cinderella retelling, but that character did feel familiar in an amusing way. I disliked her, but I think she lent a good deal of comedic relief– at least, for me.
- Fun bonus: There was a Little House on the Prairie reference! This is a show I watch a lot with my mom, so I enjoyed seeing a brief conversation about Half-Pint.
Overall, this is a book I would describe as “clean.” In addition to the fact that the kissing is nice and light (and not until a commitment has been established), there’s not a lot of junk about one person “completing,” “fulfilling” or “always being there” for the other. While spiritual content is light and there is not a strong emphasis on relationship with Jesus, I glad that there’s also not that all-too-frequent idolizing of the romantic partner. In fact, both people are showed to be quite human.
This is a fun, light read– excellent if you’re looking for a book that is entertaining and relaxing. Content-wise, I consider this book appropriate even for teens. However, interest level may be more suited to adults, since the main characters are in their late 40s.