Thursday, April 10, 2014

Paige Torn by Erynn Mangum

Author Erynn Mangum, well known for her Maya Davis series, quickly sets the tone of this first novel in the Paige Adler series. Twenty-two year old Paige's best friend Layla Prestwick excitedly announces her engagement to boyfriend, Peter, and immediately draws Paige into helping her plan her fall wedding. But before that event, Layla is also organizing her parent's 25th wedding anniversary party and for that she desperately needs Paige's help. Paige can't turn down her best friend and is quickly drawn into helping her for this event too.

Meanwhile at work, Paige who is a receptionist at a private adoption agency, Lawman Adoption Agency, is busy organizing the agency's fundraising banquet, also to be held in February. Paige has a degree in child learning and development, hopes to take on cases some day, but so far that hasn't happened. Paige finds herself doing whatever it takes to keep the office running smoothly, including transcribing three interviews one night for one of the counselors.

Paige is also very involved in her church, Grace Church in Dallas, attending services and teaching the ninth grade girls youth group. At church she meets twenty five year old newcomer, Tyler Jennings, a computer software specialist, who has volunteered to take over the ninth grade boys group. The pastor of the church, Rick and his wife Natalie are expecting their first child any time now, meaning that Paige will be needed even more. Once Natalie's baby arrives, Paige is asked to fill in even more at the church and even ends up spending a weekend helping Natalie with her new baby.

It soon becomes apparent that Paige's life is off track. Between the demands of her coworkers, her pastor, the kids at the church, and her beloved best friend Layla, Paige can't find the time to eat, shop for groceries, or do her laundry. And she has even more trouble making time to pray. Her inability to say no has put Paige Alder on a treadmill she can't get off. When Tyler begins calling to ask her out, Paige, who finds Tyler very handsome, is almost too busy to accept. But Tyler has a way of making dates with Paige happen, all the while warning her that she needs to slow down and learn to say no to people. Paige is also reluctant to get involved with another guy and is still not completely recovered from her break-up with Luke Prestwick, Layla's older brother. Can Paige get her priorities in order and recognize

Erynn Mangum does a good job of demonstrating how Paige's life quickly becomes too busy and loses it's focus. However, Paige gradually recognizes that there is something amiss with her life. She ends each day looking at her Bible sitting on the nightstand, yet again untouched and thinks "tomorrow". But she seems powerless to change things until friends intervene.

Paige thought that God's plan for her was to spend each and every moment serving him through service to others. But when she reads the story of Jairus and his daughter, she realizes that Jesus was careful to spend the time he had not trying to do everything people wanted of him, but to do what mattered and to make time to pray.This revelation helps Paige begin to bring some order and perspective into her life and to change her behaviour. Instead of micromanaging everything for her friends and coworkers, she begins to try to look realistically at what she ought to be doing.

Against this backdrop is the blossoming relationship between Tyler and Paige and that's the hook which draws readers into this novel and ultimately the next in the series. The author focuses their relationship on the formation of a friendship, which if successful, will perhaps lead to something more. Tyler is respectful and tender towards Paige, and acts as a leader in their friendship. At the same time he encourages Paige to make her needs and views known, thus modelling a healthy friendship for readers. The hanging ending, a total surprise in a rather predictable book and the possibility of a love triangle in the next book will leave readers yearning for more.

Although this novel was placed in our Young Adult section it really is part of a new genre termed "New Adult", which refers to young adults who are at least 18 years of age up to about 25 years of age. Themes in this genre deal with leaving home, sexuality, courtship, marriage, and work, essentially all those areas that new adults who are either off to college or finished their education and now working, must navigate. Mangum's offering will be appreciated by her many fans because it is also Christian fiction, part of publisher Think, an imprint of NavPress the publishing ministry of The Navigators, a Christian organization that encourages personal development. The front of the novel indicates that "some of the anecdotal illustrations in this book are true to life".

Book Details:
Paige Torn by Erynn Mangum
Colorado Springs: NAVPRESS     2013
289 pp.

No comments: