Summer (Baxter #12)

Summer (Sunrise, #2)Summer by Karen Kingsbury

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dayne and Katy are married! They are excited to be on their honeymoon, and Dayne thinks he has the solution for all their celebrity problems. Instead of starring in his next movie with a Hollywood A-lister, he can star with Katy instead. However, working together and taking part in a reality show puts a spotlight on their marriage that is becoming more and more difficult for them to handle.

Ashley and Kari are both pregnant, and they dream of their babies being closer than siblings and of sharing everything together. Yet, an ultrasound reveals that there is something wrong with one of the babies. The sisters pray for a miracle and try to get ready for the unthinkable. They all must struggle with God and with their feelings as they attempt to learn the lessons that God has for them in this storm.

The Flanigans are attempting to stay connected with their daughter Bailey, but she’s deep in the midst of adolescent turmoil and emotional drama. He friendship with Cody Coleman continues to get deeper, leaving her wondering where things are going from here. However, Cody enlists in the army, and will spend the summer saying good-bye to both the Flanigan family and to Bailey.

This is a beautiful and emotionally wrenching book. I actually spent a large part of the last hundred pages reading through my sobs and found myself challenged by the way I pray and with my relationship with God as a result of this story. That’s what I’m looking for in any book that I read, so to find it here has been a great thrill and pleasure. This is easily among the top three of the Baxter books I’ve read so far (Probably #2 to Reunion).

As always, I like to track the point-of-view characters, and there are a lot of them in this book, so this may take a little bit of reading to track down. There are spoilers ahead, so stop reading now if you don’t want to learn more of the story’s plot line.

Katy: She starts off the book as a newlywed, on her honeymoon with her husband. She is full of optimism for the future, excited to start working on a movie with him, and willing to sacrifice some of there privacy with the press in the hopes of gaining some peace. Yet, things don’t work out the way we imagine that they will. The constant scrutiny of the press, along with the environment of a movie set are deeply detrimental to her marriage. In fact, the marriage is so troubled that, even though there is a little hope at the end of the book, it is hard to see what the way forward is going to be for Dayne and Katy. It’s a stressful time for her, and so sad because of how hopeful things were in the beginning of the book. It looked like she’d found her happily ever after, and now she’s in a deeply uncertain place.

Ashley: I cried buckets of tears for her with this book. She is the one who’s baby has a fatal birth defect. She chooses to just focus on enjoying her pregnancy and praying for a miracle. She later realizes that the miracle isn’t going to come, and she questions why God is allowing this tragedy to take place in her life. She is filled with joy at her pregnancy, sadness at her baby’s death, and love from God because of the way her family rallies around her. It’s a beautiful story, and so sad.

Jenny: She’s in this book to shepherd over Bailey. She works with her daughter as a friend and a parent, and when her daughter’s friend has an unexpected pregnancy, she’s also a force for trying to save that baby from abortion and to help that friend’s mother understand what’s going on. It’s a thankless job, and we don’t know what happened with the friend and the mother by the end of the book, so I’m hoping to have some updates in the next book.

John: John’s falling in love! His relationship with Elaine has grown so much and it’s such a joy to see how much of a help and a rock that Elaine is for him in this book. His story is such a sweet story, and he’s such a wonderful supporting character that I love his presence in this book!

Dayne: He is, of course, having some marriage problems with Katy in this book. Some of them are self-caused as he allows himself to be overly involved in supporting his friend Randi Wells during her divorce (without communicating about it with Katy). His initial response to everything is to close himself off emotionally and act as if everything is okay. That’s just not going to cut it in some of these situations.

Landon: Despite his pain at his baby’s fatal diagnosis, he is Ashley’s rock. He is there to be her emotional shoulder and friend. He helps keep her involved with her family and takes care of the boys at times when Ashley is not emotionally able to. He also has the sweetest scene in the book as he explains to Cole that Cole’s baby sister is very sick and is going to die. It’s just a perfect scene from a very honorable husband and father.

Bailey: She’s not as caught up in “boy drama” in this book. She’s focusing on CKT and on her studies. Yet, she finds herself with a terrible crush on Cody Coleman, and is overwhelmed at the idea that he’s leaving to join the army. Young love! She also has a friend who has been a strong Christian up till this point, but finds herself with an unplanned pregnancy. Hopefully, Bailey will learn from her friend’s mistake.

Kari: Kari only has one or two perspective scenes in the book. It’s just enough to let us know that she’s suffering some intense guilt over the fact that her daughter is healthy and that Ashley’s is dying. We also learn that she’s really taking the role of peacemaker as far as siblings go in the family, and that is a role that suits her very well.

Brooke: Brooke is the biggest realist of the all the siblings in this book, but Brooke has a problem. She counsels Ashley to get an abortion, thinking that would be easier on Ashley and Landon, but it reveals the value that she places healthy lives above God’s sovereign hand. It causes a rift in her and Ashley’s relationship for a time, but I think both Ashley and Brooke understand the bigger picture by the end. I also think that Brooke’s learned that God is the creator and sustainer of life in a way that she didn’t understand before this tragedy.

Luke: Luke also only has a few perspective scenes in the book. He feels for Ashley. His marriage is not paradise and has its own turmoil and issues. I’m pulling for him, but I really admit that sometimes I struggle with the attitudes that he has toward Reagan in their marriage. He is just not my favorite character.

So, that’s it for this book. It’s an excellent one, and it’s a must read for the Baxter series. It’s also an excellent book for helping with some perspective when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way that we wish he would.

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