I'll admit it. I broke one of my cardinal rules of reading: MUST read books in a series in the proper order. When I saw this book was the pick for April for ACFW Book Club, I really wanted to read it but knew I wouldn't have time to finish the first two books in the series first. ACFW stands for American Christian Fiction Writers, a fantastic group with all sorts of support resources for published and non-published Christian authors. You can be a member of the ACFW Book Club without joining ACFW, though. In fact you don't even need to be a writer, just a lover of Christian fiction. What I appreciate about ACFW is that you have the opportunity to discuss the book you are reading with the author. You can also find out the latest on interviews and giveaways on the blogs of many Christian fiction authors. I have been unable to find a face-to-face group that reads Christian rather than secular fiction, so I was excited to find this group. As an aspiring author, I also enjoy learning about style through reading other's fiction. If you are interested in checking out ACFW here is some more information: ACFW Bookclub.
Anyway to get off my soapbox...I found Third Time's a Charm to be a fun read. I would consider this to be in the genre of "women's fiction." Sometimes I think the title of "chick lit" or even "women's fiction" can be used in a derogatory way implying a book with lack of substance, but that's definitely not the case here. Smith deals with some serious issues such as drug abuse and the myriad of issues related to parental divorce.
Although, or perhaps because I have never had sisters, I have always had an interest in reading books about sisters. Third Time worked fine as a standalone, although I wished I had read the whole series in order. I'm currently reading book #1 Stuck in the Middle and enjoying reading a different perspective. I hope to have a review up in a few days.
I think this is a series that would be very appealing to many 20- and 30-somethings because of the life issues the characters face. Oldest sister Allie leaves behind a career to be a stay-at-home mom. Middle daughter Joan is still living at home and is a caretaker for her grandmother. This book centers around Tori, the "baby" of the family.
Tori is a high-powered marketing executive who is "married" to her job. Tori's boss Kate is eerily reminiscent of the "bully boss" played by Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. I think many women in all age brackets can relate to the tug-of-war between a demanding career, dating relationships, and family. I have not worked in a corporate atmosphere, so find that I related more to Allie. I'm looking forward to reading #2 Age Before Beauty to find out Allie's perspective.
Tori and I are from very different worlds. I am a stay-at-home mom who is comfortable in jeans priced closer to $30 than $300. I am not the type of person who thrives in a high-pressure atmosphere, so I can't see myself choosing a career in public relations. I have one brother and came from a loving home atmosphere. Yet I still found myself able to place myself in Tori's world, which is the mark of a good author, in my opinion.
Third Time's a Charm manages to be a fun and light read while still covering a few heavy topics very appropriately. I have seen the effects of divorce in the lives of others and I felt Smith showcases issues children of divorce might struggle with realistically. It is the search for Tori's father that leads her to see her heavenly father in a new light. I am not a fan of conversion scenes that feel forced and unrealistic, but in my heart I found myself hoping the book could continue on as it seemed Tori was just beginning to make realizations about the true and living God.
I would recommend Third Time's a Charm as a humorous and fun read that deals with finding balance, finding love in the right places, and finding and giving forgiveness.
My rating: 4.5/5