About halfway through Amy Inspired, I had to look at the author blurb to see how autobiographical the novel was. The book is about Amy Gallagher, an almost-30, single, Christian, adjunct professor of English at a small college in Ohio Ms. Pierce is married, but she must have taken some of the characters and scenes in Amy Inspired from her own life as a single person before marriage. True-to-life and yet romantic describes the book perfectly.
Amy Gallagher so reminded me of my own Eldest Daughter and her friends who are also trying to navigate the waters of Christian single-hood. It’s not easy. Christian young women are supposed to be chaste but not frigid, open to marriage but not desperate, intelligent, beautiful, but not intimidating or vain, confident and independent but also submissive and selfless, and it goes on and on until a woman can get lost in all the expectations.
Amy is, frankly, a little lost. She’s a Christian, but she doesn’t know how to approach God except through the expectations that she believes He has for her life and behavior. Amy lives her life in lists–to do lists, grocery lists, lists of the rejection letters she’s received for her writing submissions, lists of former boyfriends lists of her lists–and when she meets Eli the artist who’s more of a free spirit with a checkered past, Amy isn’t sure whether it’s love or fear at first sight.
I don’t know how to convey the sheer goodness of this novel because I’m just not as skilled a writer as Ms. Pierce. It made me laugh out loud a couple of times. I never knew exactly what would happen or how the novel would end. I know some of the characters in the book—Amy’s annoying but lovable Mrs. Malaprop Mom (OK, maybe I AM the mom, a little), her tofu-loving roommate Zoe, the men in her life, self-centered and shallow, but trying to grow up, too. Amy herself reminds me, as I said, not only of Eldest Daughter, but also of several other single young women I know. The novel felt Real in a way that many Christian novels don’t manage to accomplish.
Amy Inspired made it onto my TBR list because it was nominated for the 2011 INSPY Awards in the category of General Fiction. I’m trying to read all of the nominated books that I find of interest, and I hope Amy Inspired makes the shortlist for the INSPY’s. It’s that good.