Book Review: Becoming Us by Robin Jones Gunn

becoming us robin jones gunn

Synopsis:

From the author of the best-selling Christy Miller and SisterChicks series comes a new book of community, friendship, and tackling the hard things of life with God and loved ones around a table.

Five young moms, including beloved Gunn character Christy Miller, gather to share meals and soon become unlikely best friends. The regular gatherings provide opportunities for the women to reveal their stories, and those life stories endear them to each other. They experience their lives naturally meshing as they raise their children together in community. In Becoming Us the group find ways to challenge, encourage, and help each other become the nurturing mothers they wished they'd had when they were growing up. They unite to be remembered for what they do as moms and not for what was done to them.

  • Genre: Christian Contemporary

  • Publisher: Multnomah

  • Published: 5/22/2019

  • Pages: 302

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.40 Stars


Heidi’s Rating:

4 Stars

Suggested Drink Parings:

Tea:

Herbal Tea (of your choice)

Coffee:

Skinny Latte


A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
— Proverbs 18:24

Why I Chose This Book

I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher. I thought it was a good book to read for a change of scenery from my usual that I read.

First Initial Thoughts

Emily, her husband and daughter are starting anew in California after financial ruin and marriage issues. Right at the beginning we are introduced to Christy and her group of friends. Emily is meeting them for the first time at a house party. At first she doesn’t know what to think of the group of ladies. She feels that she doesn’t belong and that they don’t really like her. At first she decides not to pursue friendship with them but she gives it a second shot.

I thought Emily to be this shy yet sweet woman. She was definitely insecure and had some personal issues to work through. Emily’s husband, even though an integral part of the story, I found was just kind of there in the background. We didn’t really get to know him that well but I think that was on purpose, as we find out later on in the story.

I did notice that I felt a little lost at times in the beginning. Though this is the first book in the series the characters come from a previous series, Christy and Todd Baby Years. So if you haven’t read those books, you may be slightly confused as well. I didn’t find it too confusing however, and still could understand what was going on.

Setting

I don’t know too much about Southern California other than from shows and movies. The way Robin describes this area makes it sound like a nice place to be. Warm sandy beaches (but not too hot) and just a nice pleasant area. Although I have heard the opposite so it was nice to hear something refreshing and different.

A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.
— Proverbs 27:9

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed reading Emily develop into more of a confident woman. She was really insecure in the beginning and I think with the move and creating those friendships she truly started to blossom into the woman she truly was.

This story is really about friendship and finding those true friends. I think today with social media and the ever growing need to work more and more hours, we loose that socializing with others. Millennials (and also Gen Z) have increasingly shown to have fewer friends. I remember watching 90s sitcoms and the close friendships that many of the main characters had. This is becoming more rare these days.

I think one of the reasons, as shown in the beginning of the book, is that people are afraid to connect with others. For the fear of what they think or believe that people are just superficial. However, as Emily learns throughout the novel is that people don’t just appear as who they are on the surface.

I think it’s important to connect with other like minded woman and form friendships. It’s in those friendships we can connect, help each-other out during difficult times, and celebrate the good times too. With prayer we can ask God for help in connecting with other woman and in turn find true friendships.

Would I Recommend?

Yes. If you are looking for a light, positive, and upbeat read you will probably really like this one! It’s not my absolute favorite but I found it inspirational.

Q&A with Robin Jones Gunn

Robin Jones Gunn
  1. Your new novel, Becoming Us, focuses on developing strong friendships.  Why do you think it’s important to build community with other women?

One of the prompts for me to write Becoming Us came from a tag line on an article in Simple magazine April, 2015.

Have we replaced real friendships with Facebook likes and are we too far gone to fix it? Here’s why face-to-face connections are so crucial.

The piece gave sobering statistics based on a study out of Duke University conducted over the last twenty years showing the changes in how we experience community.

- People who regularly invite friends over 30% drop

- People who join clubs and civic organizations 58% drop

- People who lack a close confidant and friend 25%

- People who are one friend away from social isolation 50%

- People who move away from their hometowns 60%

The article included a photo of a group of young women from Kentucky who started a book club but then changed it to a “non-book club” since so many of the women didn’t have time to read the book and then wouldn’t come. They switched to reading magazine articles instead and gathered to discuss them. One woman said, “We now share our deepest hopes and fears. I’m not sure any of us were expecting that level of connection.”

I’ve written several series of novels over the last few decades. All of them focus on a strong sense of community between the women. Christy Miller has her “Forever Friends”, the Women of Glenbrooke gathered together throughout the 8-book series and the Sisterchicks novels highlighted the benefits gained when traveling with other women. 

Over the last few years I’ve been paying attention to how this generation of young women is connecting and the ways they speak into each other’s lives. It’s different than the way their grandmothers did when they gathered to play bridge or the way their mothers joined a book club or a Bunko group. These women check each other out online before they get together. They can view images the other women post of their children, spouse, new sofa and what they made for dinner. 

What draws them together is the need to experience the non-verbal communication that can only be experienced when face-to-face. They want to be known. They want to share experiences. They want personal antidotal advice beyond Web MD for why their child won’t eat apples. They want to belong.

The characters in Becoming Us are fictional but their life stage is familiar to me because my daughter and daughter-in-law have shared what their socializing looks like and what they value. I’ve been invited to slip in to local gatherings of young moms and have been warmed by the depth at which the women share with each other. 

Life issues haven’t changed over the generations, but the way women gather and share those experiences has. Becoming Us takes readers into a world that will feel familiar because of the interaction between the characters. But the story also shows ways that women can beat the current statistics and develop meaningful friendships.

2. Christy Miller, Sierra Jensen and several other characters from your previous novels return in this book. What has it been like living with a character (Christy) for 30 years? What have you learned?

I’m not sure I have much to say about living with a character for 30 years, other than to say that Christy and Sierra sure seem real to me! But I definitely feel as if I’ve lived with the readers for over 30 years and I’ve learned so much from them. I’ve heard their voices in emails, letters, social media posts and face to face every single week for the last three decades. The interaction with them has never let up. They tell me what they want – what they need – what’s missing in the other books they read and the movies they watch. 

Christy and Sierra have felt like real people and true friends to these Beautiful Readers. They want to be reunited with them and learn from them how to navigate the next season of life.

3. You introduce a new main character in this book, Emily Winslow. What was it like writing the story for a brand new main character and trying to blend her into the world of Christy and Sierra? 

The interesting thing about Emily was that I didn’t know her name as I was crafting the story. My process is to create binders for all my books and collect pieces long before I start writing. I saw a picture of a woman in a clothing catalog and immediately knew she was going to be the first-person voice telling the story in Becoming Us. I cut out the picture, pasted it on a piece of paper and put it in the binder. 

As I spend time with the cast of characters before I start writing, I listen until I can hear their voice in my imagination. I could hear Emily’s voice. I knew all about her life, her personal struggles, her husband and daughter. But she wouldn’t tell me her name. 

I started writing the book and when I got to the scene in the first chapter where Jennalyn, the hostess of the Christmas party introduces everyone, I watched my fingers type as Jennalyn introduce her as Emily. I stopped typing and said out loud, “Well, hello, Emily. So nice to finally meet you.” I remembered thinking that Emily was even more shy than I realized and I loved her for her timidity. That character quality played out in the book and endeared Emily to me all the more. We’ve all been Emily’s at some point. It was so healing to watch my ole’ friends Christy and Sierra encircle Emily and invite her into their group. Who doesn’t want to be invited to belong?

You can purchase the book —-> HERE

the caffeinated bibliophile

Please Note: I was sent a copy of this book to review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.