March 31, 2015

Better All the Time

Better All the Time
by Carre Armstrong Garner

What initially caught my eye with Carre Armstrong Gardner’s books were the covers and titles, but what really made me want to read Better All the Time was how good the first book in the series, All Right Here, was. Sometimes, as I read a series, I end up liking one book better than the others, but so far, Books One and Two in The Darlings series have been equally excellent.

Personally, I love Gardner’s writing, with its long sentences and lots of descriptions. I really got a feel for the close-knit Darling family through her writing since I felt like I was in the middle experiencing every moment.
In Better All the Time, there are many characters to keep track of since the Darling Family isn’t exactly small. According to the back cover, the main characters are Sephy and Amy, but some of the other siblings’ roles are strong too. Gardner’s characters are currently my favorite because they have real-life problems portrayed in down-to-earth circumstances I can really relate to. I especially felt Sephy’s emotions tug at my heart as she dealt with her inner struggles.

The two spiritual parts that stood out to me were with Amy and Laura. Amy is struggling in her new job, and her mom keeps reminding her to pray. Only to learn that when she prays God is there and helps her. On the other hand, Laura is facing transitions in her life, and I enjoy watching her as she starts attending church and serving others with her time and talents. I love how welcoming her new church is. There were just a couple moments where characters were quicker to forgive and forget than felt plausible.

Looking for a new book with a new take on family dynamics, I strongly believe Better All the Time is just the novel. I’ve never read anything quite like it where I relate on so many levels with so many of the characters. The target audience for this book is mostly young women who will relate with the sisters but would also be excellent for middle age women beginning to experience an empty nest. Non-Christian readers might find the constant mention of prayer offensive, but also might find they relate with many of the situations the characters experience as well.

Better All the Time is a perfect continuation of the Darling Family series, leaving just enough unknowns for the third book to cover. I lost sleep finishing this book because it was too good to put down. I just couldn’t wait to see how things would end. At times, this book reminded me of a much cleaner, Christian version of the TV show Brothers and Sisters because of the family interactions. The characters would make an entertaining TV show.

Better All the Time gives people like me, from small quiet families, a great peek into the life of a large, loud family. I loved reading about ordinary people experiencing real-life dilemmas, just like some of the ones I’ve experienced myself. A great read for anyone that wants to truly connect on a personal level with characters.

Tyndale provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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