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Coming Attractions

September 3, 2009

Attractions-Cover-194x300 Have you ever read a story where the characters were so real that they became life-time friends? Robin Jones Gunn’s books for teenage girls (the Christy Miller, Sierra Jensen, and now Katie Weldon series) are like that. I feel like I can actually relate to the problems the characters face and the lessons they learn. They themselves have become like good friends.

I read the Christy Miller series years ago, then followed the College Years and the Sierra Jensen series. Each book taught me new lessons and perspectives, and each holds a special place in my heart. I was so sad when I finished the College Years because at the time, there were no more books with my ‘friends’, and it looked as though it were going stay that way.

So you can imagine my happiness at receiving a newsletter stating that Robin was back with a series starring Katie!! I wasn’t able to read the first two books (Peculiar Treasure and On a Whim) until about a month ago, when I got them from our local library. I completely devoured them, and couldn’t wait for the third one! I tried to place it on hold as well, but for some reason, the library system wouldn’t let me. I was really bummed…  but God opened up an even better way for me to get it that I wasn’t expecting! (isn’t it so awesome how God surprises us with unexpected gifts sometimes?) I happened to see a note on Robin’s Facebook page about an upcoming blog tour for Coming Attractions, saying to email the Blog Tour Spot if we were interested in being a part of it. The opportunity was right up my alley, so I signed up. Little did I know: the director of the tour emailed me back, saying I would soon be sent a free copy from the publisher! That totally made my day.

The book arrived in the mail a week or so later. I’ve gotta tell ya, it was so hard to finish schoolwork and chores before reading it! 😉 I finished that very night and cried as I read the final pages.

Coming Attractions is a story that many can relate to, with some of the main themes being: forgiveness, worry about the future, stress, pain, heartache, purpose, love, listening to what God wants us to do, even if it means giving up a dream and doing hard things; letting go of the past and moving on with the future; and ultimately, hope. Without spoilers, here is the basic premise:

As Katie Weldon approaches her graduation from college, the future seems to loom before her, full of unknowns. Will she finally become engaged to her boyfriend, Rick, whom she’s liked since Junior High? Or should she go to Africa, where she’s felt drawn to? And why does Eli, an adventurous guy who loves God with all his heart, seem to understand her better than her own almost-fiance? Meanwhile, the present is stressful enough, full of projects, finals, work, and the flu. Katie’s not sure what path God has for her at the end of her final semester. What she’s learning is to lean fully on Him, and trust that He will bring everything to pass in the right time; He knows what He’s doing. All she has to do is be seriously committed to Him, and Stay Tuned for the Coming Attractions that He’s bringing…

At the moment, I can most definitely relate to the lessons Katie learns. I’m in my final semester of highschool, wondering what path God has for me, what to do about college, researching, and still getting ‘today’s work’ done in the meantime.

I used to think that I was most like Christy Miller (we even shared the same last name :)). But when I started reading Katie’s series, I felt a deeper connection with her than with any of the other characters, even Christy. Granted, I’m not quite as impetuous or vivacious as she is (most of the time… ;)), but in a deeper way, sometimes just a way of thinking, we’re the same. So as I read the story, in parts, it seemed as if all those things were happening to me; as if I were living her story for the time I was reading it.

The final (and most important) message that the book leaves you with is the message of Hope. Of a second chance.

When the author, Robin Jones Gunn, was asked the question: “What do you hope readers will take away from your book?”, she replied:

Hope.

That was actually my daughter’s word for the year when I started writing the Katie books. Yes, my daughter has begun her own tradition of running away with Jesus for a day in January and asking Him for a word. I hope readers will see how deeply and intimately they are loved by God and how He has pursued them and called them by name and longs to have a close relationship with all of His daughters. I hope they will see that in every situation there is hope.

When you shake all the frivolous stuff out of life, as Paul said, “These three things remain; faith, hope and love.” We all know that the greatest of these is love. We also all know that our journey with the Lord begins with faith. But I think we forget that the bridge there between the two is hope. For Katie, hope is what kept her going. Hope is what she was willing to take risks for and release the past in order to embrace the future. “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:22

So, on a scale of 1-10, I definitely give Coming Attractions a 9. The best of teen-fiction available.

Gunn-Headshot-300x225The author, Robin Jones Gunn, is also the much-loved author of Peculiar Treasures, On a Whim, and the Christy Miller, Sierra Jensen, College Years, Glenbrooke, and Sisterchicks® series, with over 4 million books sold worldwide. Robin loves to travel and often speaks locally and internationally. She and her husband live near Portland, Oregon, where the view outside her window is green all year round.

When asked where she got the idea for the book, Robin replied:

The idea was with me for many years. I wanted to find out what happened to Katie and Christy and the rest of the God-Lovers gang. But after I finished writing “I Promise”, Christy and Todd had just walked down the aisle and my 14 years of writing about these characters ended. The day I typed the last line I clearly sensed the Lord impressing on me that I had finished what He invited me to do when I started writing for teens. So I asked Him, “What’s next, Lord?” What followed was the Glenbrooke Series, the Sisterchicks Series and 4 non-fiction books. But no more teen novels.
Every week for the next seven years I received requests from readers all over the world asking me to write more novels for teens. With every letter I’ve asked the Lord, “May I, please?” The answer was always silence. I even approached two different writers about the possibility of them writing about these characters. Both times the projects didn’t develop. So I surrendered again, stepped back and asked God, “What’s next, Papa?”The answer came in a unique way one afternoon a few summers ago. I was stretched out on the couch for a little nap with my eyes closed. In my heart I distinctly sensed the Lord saying, “I’m giving Katie back to you.” I opened my eyes and looked around to see who spoke because the words seemed so clear. The sun streamed through a high window bathing me in light and a sweet sense of peace. Out loud I said, “Am I making this up or are you directing me, Father?” Just then the music on my computer switched to a song I have long considered Christy and Todd’s love song. I felt a rising sense of excitement. God was doing a new thing.

From there all the doors swung wide open and I am overwhelmed and grateful and thrilled that I was able to write these three Katie Weldon novels. “Peculiar Treasures” released from Zondervan in March, 2008, and picked up where “I Promise” ended. Then came “On a Whim” and now “Coming Attractions”.

The question I’m asked now every single day is, “Will there be more?” My answer once again is, “I don’t know. I’ll keep asking God and see what He says!”

To learn more about Robin, visit her website here.

To get a copy of Coming Attractions, visit here.

And to see the list of all the other blogs on the tour, visit here.

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