Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lizzie Searches for Love Trilogy, by Linda Byler

Lizzie Glick doesn’t know and doesn’t want any other life aside from the Amish. But that doesn’t stop her from questioning the Amish ways. She is quick tempered, hates cows and farming in general, and doing household chores. When her running around time starts, and none of the boys she likes like her back, she starts questioning the whole idea of love, the concept of marriage and having babies. She is not the typical quiet, reserved and submissive Amish girl. Her sisters, however, so mature for their age and wise, are the complete opposite. On the surface, Lizzie wishes to be more like them, but deep down, her mind is set. And when she learns of a young man’s feelings for her, she realizes that the heart has a mind of its own and sometimes it’s very hard to figure it out. Can she love someone more than she loves her freedom and independence? As Lizzie grows older, the decisions that should be easier to make become more complicated as she learns how to let go of her own will and trust God’s guidance and wisdom.

This nice trilogy gives us a great look into family relationships: how there’s always one sibling who thinks of herself/himself as the ugly duckling, how siblings always think that parents play favorites, and how, it doesn’t matter how much they love each other, there’s almost always some type of sibling rivalry. Lizzie thinks of herself as unappreciated, unloved and unlovable. She is never good enough, talented enough, pretty enough or thin like her sisters. She is very selfish; always thinking of herself and how things affect her. Now, granted, when the first book starts she is fourteen years old, and those are pretty common feelings among teenagers. But as the series progresses, the immature Lizzie grows rather too slowly. She sometimes seems to be improving, only to go back two steps, which is very frustrating. It is, though, certainly realistic as to how we grow and mature during our teenage years: with a series of irritating hits and misses. So the author did a great job of making us care for Lizzie as well as making us exasperated at Lizzie. Just like her parents, whom, to be honest, sometimes were fair, and other times seemed to be playing favorites, which makes the reader feel like whining alongside Lizzie every now and then.

Now, Lizzie’s selfishness does have a plus side: it compels her to question many things pertaining to God, faith, family, Bible doctrine, and Amish traditions and rules: things all of us tend to question and seldom appear written in books. Her doubts and concerns brought back many memories of my own teenage questions about my faith and God’s will for my life. I wish the adults around her would have been wiser in their answers, but she got to figure out a few things on her own while reading the Bible. I hoped that seeking the truth would have propelled her forward in her growth, but her growing process included a few irritating learning and unlearning instances. She would have a great realization, but then have an incredibly hard time putting it to practice, mostly when it came to Stephen, her love interest.

Stephen, a quiet and very reserved young man, is very sure of his feelings for Lizzie, and one can almost see the hurt in his eyes when Lizzie just doesn’t get that he’s trying to convey his love for her. Sadly, sometimes I couldn’t help but wonder what he saw in Lizzie, mostly because we don’t get to see much of their relationship as it develops, such as their first kiss, or their feelings on the wedding night. Lizzie is almost always full of doubts, very indecisive. She would be sure that she loved him now, and a paragraph later, she doubted it, again. A little later on, and she was back to loving him. No explanation, no reasoning, which left me wondering: why did they love each other? More so when she is pretty difficult to deal with, and Stephen, although giving the impression of being serious and mature, often comes across as selfish, too.

As the series starts, it has a nice 'Anne of Green Gables' feel to it, which was kind of a treat, with a very nice tone, narrative and interesting voices at first. It however, had too many back stories that dragged the story in the beginning, instead of maintaining a steady, well paced forward progress. It mostly felt as if there was no cohesive plot, just a series of accounts in a young girl’s life. The characters were very well written in terms of consistency:  seemly perfect sisters, with perfect relationships, were perfect until the end; firm and opinionated parents remained strong until the end; and Lizzie’s self-absorption and selfishness remained mostly intact, which was disappointing.

The 'Lizzie Searches for Love Trilogy' is a sometimes funny, tender and enjoyable story about a young girl, her transition to adulthood, her family life, her love life, and her struggles, with sweet moments of family and friends. Had it had a more likable female lead, it would have been a stronger, more satisfying story.

3 out of 5 stars

*I received a copy of this book through The Christian Manifesto in exchange of an honest review.

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