My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Keith and Chase have finished filming their movie, and now it’s time for the editing and the promotion of the movie. It’s good for them that they have a big time movie investor and his production assistant daughter on their side as they work on getting this movie put into theaters. Success beckons and they are on a constant loop between their homes in San Jose and their time in Hollywood.
Meanwhile, Chase’s wife Kelly is struggling at home. Taking care of two small girls, dealing with a beyond tight budget and sinking deeper into depression by the day, she resents Chase’s absence from their lives. Will their marriage survive the making of this life changing movie?
Keith’s daughter Andi is also struggling. She is struggling because she longs for rebellion and adventure. She longs to be edgy and adventurous. She longs for danger and for love. She does not long for God and is pretty sure that she doesn’t believe in him. She’s on the verge of some dangerous choices. Will she return to Jesus? Will she slip deeper into sin?
This book is the second book in the Above the Line series of Baxter books. Kingsbury is sending out the plot that she’s established in Take One, but nothing gets resolved as we go through the book. Instead, everyone is in stasis and very little gets solved. Here’s a sampling of thoughts about each of the point-of-view characters. Don’t forget that there will be spoilers ahead:
Kendall: Kendall is a new point of view character in this book. She is the daughter of the principal investor in Keith and Chase’s movie, and she is a production assistant who is attempting to help get everything set up for their next movie. She’s a young divorcee, and even though she’s a Christian, she struggles with an attraction to Chase that she works hard to keep under wraps. I love her backstory and how it affects her life in this book, and I am glad that she works to keep her attraction from blossoming into sin. I hope to see more of her as we head into the next book of the series.
Bailey: I nearly forgot Bailey was in this book, even though she gets a good many point-of-view scenes. Most of her scenes are either focused on her lack of true feelings for Tim or her constant push and pull with Cody. I’m already exhausted by the Bailey/Cody thing, and if I’m counting right, I still have six more books to go before it’s completely resolved. Enough all ready. Just put them together, or at least give them a chance and see if things really work out between them. Her other role in this book is to disapprove of everything Andi does. For a relationship that started out so promising, Bailey and Andi have really pulled apart over the course of this book.
Keith: He’s still the solid rock of this project. He works. He interacts with his wife. Everything is on the up with him, even when things are down. He has a good head on his shoulders and realizes what is important in life. Because of his distance and his busyness, he does miss seeing what’s truly going on with Andi, but I don’t think he can be blamed for that. After all, Andi is a young adult in college, and she is pretty determined to keep him clueless.
Kelly: She’s depressed. She’s resentful. She feels like the weight of their whole family is on her shoulders, and she’s not wrong. She turns to compulsive overeating as a way of escaping her problems. Although it’s portrayed as exceptionally harmful, I found myself rolling my eyes because there are so many worse things to do when times are hard. So what if she’s eating a little extra chocolate? I really felt a connection with Kelly because of my time as a homeschooling Mom and the way that I am often left to hold our home together while my husband is working or serving at church. (I’m not resentful, but the fact is that 24/7 parenting is exhausting.) I can totally get that except the overeating part is overplayed and cartoonish. I often found myself thinking that if she’s worried over whether she’s eating McDonald’s or planning to eat Salmon and fresh veggies, her finances aren’t nearly as tight as she imagines and her priorities are totally out of line. She’s got so much more to focus on than her eating habits. It’s just a ridiculous issue to be so magnified.
Chase: I don’t like him. He’s a jerk. He can’t relate to his family. He doesn’t even see them because he’s so into his work. He finds himself flattered and attracted to Kendall. He finds himself not able to come home on his daughter’s birthday or even rush home when his daughter breaks her arm. He just comes off as someone whose priorities are completely out of line. He doesn’t even really seem sympathetic with his wife’s depression because he’s so into himself and his goals. How can he make life changing movies and leave his family to be a casualty along the way? How can the good of others come before the good of the very people that God gave him to care for and protect most of all?
Andi: Wow. . . She is making bad decisions in the spades. She pulls away from God and from godly friends like Bailey who can be a good influence in her life. She lies and tries to keep things from her parents. She’s completely taken in by a young film student named Taz. She falls into sin of her own free will. . . And not to mention, the scenes with her that describe her feelings and what is going on are sensual. They’re blushworthy, and as someone who has a past of struggling with romance novels, they led my imagination into sin. I lowered my appraisal of this book by a whole star because of the way that the sensuality in this book took me by surprise. . . I do occasionally read books with sex scenes in them, ones that aren’t necessarily sexy, and books that don’t make me feel sensual. Although this book is not as descriptive of a sex scene as many romance novels, it is very sensual and sexy, and this sinful sexuality is portrayed in a positive light by Andi’s perspective narration. I try to prepare for temptation so that I am not taken in, so let the reader beware.
Cody: In this book Cody befriends Andi until he realizes that he’s guilty of leading her own. Then, he cuts himself off from her. He is in a continual dance of “should he” or “shouldn’t he” in being friends with Bailey. It’s exhausting, and I hope that it ends soon. Painfully annoying storyline.
Lisa: If I remember correctly, Lisa only gets on point-of-view scene in the book. She is awakened in the middle of the night to pray for Andi because she can sense that Andi is getting into trouble. She is a great support system for Keith throughout the book, and I am so glad Keith has her. If she were as emotionally unstable as Chase, I can’t imagine what these books would be like.
So, that’s my assessment of the book. If it weren’t for the couple of sexy scenes with Andi, it would definitely be a 3 star book, but when I read Christian fiction, I don’t appreciate having sexy scenes in it. I also thought that Kingsbury does not have a good grasp on the financial situations and desperation that Kelly would go through. If she did, she would not have made such a big deal over M&Ms or McDonald’s. So, I guess this book goes down as too sexy and out of touch with poor people. I plan to continue reading book three because I want to see how Andi ends up and if Chase and Kelly are able to reconcile their marriage. So, Take Three is next on my list.