Monday, July 21, 2014

Paige Turned by Erynn Mangum

Paige Alder has been working for two months now as a Youth Minister with Pastor Rick at their church. After Tyler saw Layla's brother, Luke, who is Paige's ex-boyfriend, kiss her at the end-of-the-school year youth party, things have been decidedly cool between them. At first Paige is certain that Luke's kiss is the cause of Tyler's lack of interest and the fact that they haven't seen each other for most of the summer. With the exception of the youth karaoke picnic where Tyler grabbed Paige and they sang, Tyler has been mostly absent and distant.

During Paige's week off, her best friend Layla who is stressing about her upcoming wedding, decides to get a puppy. Layla's brother Luke, shows us at the animal shelter and Paige finally has the courage to confront Luke and tell him that while she forgives him for what happened between them, she is not interested in pursuing a relationship and that he is messing up what she has with Tyler.

As both Layla and Paige's sister, Preslee prepare for their upcoming fall weddings, Paige tries to help both young women. At the same time she becomes increasingly worried about Tyler until one night Tyler and Pastor Rick talk together. It is after this that Tyler confesses to Paige that he did not lead a good life before he became a Christian and this is why he has taken things slowly.

From this point on, Tyler and Paige begin to fall in love against the backdrop of two other couples planning very different weddings. But will their relationship lead to a trip down the aisle?

Paige Turned is a light feel-good conclusion to the Paige Alder series. Readers will not be surprised by the sweet, predictable conclusion to the series. It's nice to see a series of novels where the characters focus on becoming friends first and trying to determine if each has a good character and might be someone suitable to spend the rest of life with. It was refreshing to see Paige finally confront Luke and tell him how she felt and that in this case, it was too late for a second chance.

There was one thing I didn't like about Paige and Tyler's relationship. His question at the end seemed too soon and too sudden, given that Tyler only asked Paige to be his girlfriend at the beginning of the summer and it's now October. They did not date over the summer because of Tyler struggling to tell Paige about his past - a past he never fully reveals to her.

I also wasn't keen on the language used to describe a very important aspect of Paige and Tyler's relationship which the author brings up. When Tyler reveals that he has a past before he was Christian and that he has made mistakes,  Paige spends a large portion of the novel working on "forgiving" Tyler for his sin involving his past relationships. I didn't like this notion of Paige having to "forgive" Tyler. Eventually this evolves into the more realistic concept of Paige needing to accept Tyler, despite the mistakes of his past and to realize that just because he's now come to Jesus does not mean that he won't make mistakes in the future.  The same applies to Paige's relationship with her sister Preslee, who also made mistakes as a young person. Paige has had to forgive Preslee for the hurt she cause her and her parents and to realize that Preslee is a work in progress. While it takes time for her to get to this point, in the end Paige does so, with the realization that she too has a past.

As a result, in Paige Turned, the relationships feel real and the characters are decidedly authentic. Paige has the support of her pastor and married friend to help her live a chaste single life and Tyler is respectful and honourable, always looking on the bright side of life. While Paige comes from a stable, intact family, Tyler's family has suffered from divorce. His mother, a somewhat stereotypical divorcee, is bitter and critical, the complete opposite of Paige's kind, warm mom. It felt refreshing to see a strong Christian  not reject someone outright because their family has suffered from divorce. Paige accepts Tyler on the basis of his good character and the respectful way he treats her.

There's plenty of wit to go around, and Paige Turned is a light, refreshing romance that avoids heavy discussions about sin, sex, dating and marriage. The message comes across clear; people can and do date without focusing on sex, intent on saving themselves for marriage and they are normal, happy people!

Book Details:
Paige Turned by Erynn Mangum
Colorado Springs:  NaviPress    2014
286 pp.

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