Christy Williams has been running from God and her family ever since her parents' funeral. She lives the life of a partier-smoking, drinking, and sleeping around. But she also lives the life of a book-lover, since she works in an antique bookstore. But ever since her rejecting the love of a coworker, he has been tormenting her and generally making her life miserable. All of this comes to a head one night when Christy returns to her apartment to find it a smoldering ruins. At this point, she has hit rock bottom. Yet knowing that her younger sister, May, has been trying to get in touch with her over years, Christy flees to the dairy farm May works on in order to reconcile with her. But little did she know that her sick lover would follow her there and seek her out...
CJ Darlington definitely deserved to win the 2009 Christian Writer's Guild Award, because a debut novel that began from the scribblings of a fifteen-year-old isn't going to get much better than this. As it was, CJ did much better than one would expect from such a meager beginning. However, inconsistent character development and a simple plot keep this book off the Elite List.
The character development is not consistent. Christy is the best character because she is basically the only imperfect one. None of the characters have personalities. May and her friends are dubbed the "good, hard-working Christians" while Vince is dubbed the "evil, sick criminal." Christy is the gray area between these two extremes, making her the best character. She makes good and bad choices, whereas the other characters can only make one or the other. CJ needs to beef up her characters in the future in order to increase her chance of writing an Elite book.
The plot is fairly simple and straightforward at the beginning with no subplots outside of the lives of the two sisters. These two plots combine after Christy's apartment burns down. Before the end, CJ indulges in much unneeded drama, having Christy get lost deep into the forest on a cold winter night with her murderous lover closing in. This makes it look like CJ wasn't creative enough to invent a better end, yet at the very end of the book, CJ does two unexpected things that cause the book's rating to rise. Yet the things CJ did in the body of the book can not be atoned for with an unexpected end.
All in all, one cannot expect much more from a debut novel. As long as CJ moves past this inexperienced stage in her career and does get stuck in the past of typical suspense, yet moves forward into the future of ambiguous plots, she will be a fine author indeed.