Review: On a Whim by Robin Jones Gunn

On a Whim by Robin Jones Gunn

Ever since high school, Katie Weldon has wondered what it would be like to be Rick Doyle’s girlfriend. As a college senior she’s about to find out. In the swirl of Katie’s upgraded dating life, she receives an unexplained bouquet, an unexpected call from her mother, an unprecedented girls’ night out with Christy, and an unhappy moment when her beloved car, Baby Hummer, takes its last wheeze. Rick’s new roommate, Eli, complicates things by inviting Katie on a midnight jaunt to see a meteor shower. Under a canopy of stars Katie grasps a new view of the universe—out there as well as up close. As if she had nothing else to do, on a whim she singlehandedly starts a fund-raising campaign for clean water for Africa. With Rick caught up in making plans for the future, how will Katie navigate her way through the remainder of her college career with no money, no transportation, no spare time, and no idea what God is up to? On a Whim is the second book in the Katie Weldon Series

This is the second in the Katie Weldon series of Christian YA fiction, but I recommend reading the entire Christy Miller series (12 books) and Christy & Todd: The College Years (3 books) before starting the Katie series. I’m a stickler for reading in order and Katie and Rick’s history goes back to the Christy books. Christy and Todd show up in Katie’s books, too.

It’s been a long time since I read the Christy and Todd books and I don’t remember liking Katie very much. I like her a lot more in this series. Katie has an outgoing personality and seems like she would be a lot of fun. She’s full of ideas and she’s impulsive, which sometimes gets her into trouble.

Katie hasn’t had an easy life. At 21 or 22, she has no emotional or financial support from her parents. She’s always struggling with money, but she works hard and somehow God always comes through. He comes through for Katie in a big way in this book, which in turn lets her come through for others. One thing about Katie is that she cares a lot about other people and always tries to help them in any way she can, as evidenced by her clean water campaign.

My biggest complaint with this book, and the series as a whole, is Katie’s fixation on Rick. Rick is a few years older than Katie, so I’d put him around 25. He and Katie are pretty much opposites. He’s not all that much fun, from what I can tell, and he’s more interested in starting a chain of cafes with his brother than anything else. He has responsibilities, which is understandable since he’s trying to start a career, but that puts him at a very different place in his life than Katie is in hers. Juggling a front desk job/RA position with schoolwork and a social life just can’t compare to obtaining financing and starting a business.

He’s also very, VERY serious about taking their relationship at a snail’s pace. Strangely enough, he’s the snail. Now, I know that’s his choice and everyone has the right to go as slowly as they want, but I have to say, I would not be as patient as Katie has. Despite basically dating for a long time, it wasn’t until the last book that they finally agreed to become officially boyfriend and girlfriend. Near the beginning of On a Whim Katie tells her friend Nicole that it’s been YEARS since they’ve kissed (twice) and it’s very clear that she does want to move forward. Again, they are at odds. That said, Katie really needs to stop pushing him. If it’s not cool when it’s a guy pressuring a girl to have sex, it’s not cool for a girl to pressure a guy to do something he isn’t ready for. If she doesn’t agree with it and can’t reconcile herself to not kissing Rick until he’s ready, she needs to move on.

At Rick’s urging (and due to his absence at times), Katie gets to know his roommate Eli better in this book. She also meets Eli’s friend Joseph, who is from Africa, as well as spending time with Nicole and Christy. I like Eli and Joseph a lot better than Rick. Nicole on the other hand, well, she’s seems like the serious type. I can’t help but wonder if she would be a good match for Rick. They do have a lot in common, as we see on several occasions when they get together as a group.

Fun fact: The book uses the word countenance a lot. I’m sure that it was used in all the other books too, but I never noticed it before. Now I notice it every time and I hear it in Michelle Duggar’s voice! She uses that word a lot.

Christian fiction isn’t for everyone, and I don’t read a lot of it myself. I know people are always concerned that it’s going to be too preachy. I can’t really judge if anyone else would consider this series preachy or not because I’ve read all the previous books and knew exactly what I was getting going into On a Whim. God and faith — but not necessarily church — are a big part of Katie’s life, enough so that she has chosen to attend a private Christian college.

3 1/2 stars