Kristin Billerbeck writes some of the best Christian chick lit in the biz. And Ashley Stockingdale takes the cake as one of the most popular characters from her long line of published novels. We thought we saw the end of the Ashley fun in 2007 when our gal married the gorgeous Dr. Kevin Novak.
Well, as I perused my Amazon recommendation list, I was thrilled to see Mrs. Novak (Ashley Stockingdale Novak, not Kevin’s hard-butt mama) was back to share all about married life in What a Girl Needs.
We catch up with Ashley two years into her marriage to Kevin. The couple still lives on the East Coast where Kevin’s participating in a fellowship and saving tiny baby’s lives. Ashley does nothing. She’s no longer practicing law. She can’t figure out how to be a housewife. She’s broke so she can’t even shop.
So, for an anniversary present, Kevin buys her a plane ticket back to Cali. Only… it’s a plane ticket just for her. That’s right. Her husband gave her a vacation for one for their anniversary and thinks it’s the greatest gift ever.
GAH! Why are men so… clueless?
What I liked, and struggled with, in the latest in the Ashley Stockingdale series was Ashley herself. I could SEE what her issues were and yet she wouldn’t work on them. She allowed Kevin’s work to be bigger than her work. She’s tried to fix everyone else’s lives without caring one bit about her own. And, mostly, she lost herself.
How incredibly relatable does that make Ashley? For me, it’s like I’m watching my own life unfold in a character.
I’d venture to say many women can relate to Ashley. We yearn to take care of everyone else… 1) because we’re nurturers and 2) it’s easier than dealing with our stuff.
As we spend a few weeks with Ashley, we see her insecurities arise and fester into near mental breakdowns.
- Her husband can fly across country with his pregnant sister but cannot even text his wife (he’s too busy for that).
- Her best friends haven’t included her in major life changes (they don’t want to worry her).
- And her ex-boyfriend seems to be hitting on her (he thinks he made a mistake).
The great thing about Billerbeck’s novels is they aren’t preachy. You know how some Christian fiction feels like Sunday School? The characters are perfect. No one messes up. Everyone lives happily ever after. Well, life isn’t Sunday School and Billerbeck’s writing characterizes all of our lives.
As Ashley realizes and deals with each issue, we feel a tug in our spirit to look outside of ourselves for help.
I loved What a Girl Needs as much as any of the other Ashley Stockingdale books. I laughed. I worried. I applauded. You can snatch it up and read it in 3 days. And sometimes that’s exactly the kind of a book this girl needs.