Book Review: “Only You, Sierra” by Robin Jones Gunn

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 at 6:53 am

Anna got Starry Night by Robin Jones Gunn for Christmas one year–and the two of us were quickly hooked on the adventures of Christy Miller, Midwestern transplant to crazy California.

We *adored* Christy–reading each of those books over and over and over again. We were in love with Todd. We hated Rick. We cracked up over dead hamsters. We started shoebox P.O. Boxes for our future husbands.

And then we reached our teens–and skipped the teen spin-offs to jump directly into Gunn’s adult “Glenbrook” series.

Of course, I’d “met” Sierra Jensen with Christy when she went to Europe in A Promise is Forever–but I’d never actually read any of Sierra’s story until Waterbrook Multnomah offered a free Kindle edition of The Sierra Jensen Collection, Volume 1 containing Only You, Sierra, In Your Dreams and Don’t You Wish.

Only You, Sierra started out in familiar territory–Carnforth Hall in England, during the missions trip Sierra, Christy, Katie, Tracy, and Doug had ended up on together.

Sierra flies home from England–but home isn’t the same place she left. While she was on her trip, her family had moved in with their Granna Mae in Portland. Granna Mae has good days and bad days with her dementia–and Sierra’s family is there to help.

Even though the move had been planned in advance, Sierra finds herself struggling to catch up to her family, who has already settled in–and struggling to find her place in Portland, where her uniqueness isn’t quite so unique.

I devoured Only You, Sierra, reading it in two nights. It’s definitely Robin Jones Gunn, but it’s more realistic than Christy’s drama-filled existence. Unlike Christy, Sierra has no fairy-godmother-like rich aunt ready to introduce her into the high-life. Instead, Sierra has an older sister who she shares a room with, two little brothers, a loving but confused Granna Mae, two parents, and a crush she barely knows. As I said, much more realistic (at least, from my perspective.)

When I finished Only You, Sierra, I was gravely disappointed to find that I couldn’t access the second and third books on my Kindle edition. I realize that my copy was an ARC–and therefore may not be reflective of the final copy–but I worry that fellow Kindle Readers would find themselves getting only one book when they’re promised (and itching for) three.

I’m thinking these books would appeal most to the sort of reader I was when I first started reading the Christy Miller books–in my early adolescence. While I read those when I was ten or so, my guess is that these will probably appeal to the 12-14 crowd best.

For those worried that familiarity with the Christy Miller series is necessary for understanding these books, I think you’ll find that isn’t the case. I’ve framed my review around my childhood memories of Christy–but she certainly isn’t necessary for reading or enjoying the Sierra Jensen series.

Rating:4 Stars
Category:Teen Girls Series Fiction
Synopsis:Sierra struggles to find her place in a new community while wishing she were in SoCal with her “European friends”.
Recommendation: Good, clean, engaging–and not too drama filled–fiction for teenage girls. If you’ve got girls around 12-14 years old, these would be a good option. (Definitely a better option that the “Princess Diaries” franchise or “Gossip Girls”.)

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Reader Comments (4):

  1. Oh dear. Definitely sounds like something I would have liked when I was 12-14. And definitely something that I roll. my. eyes. at now. That said, I still think it’s funny that you like them so well. (Then, too, I seldom confess that I re-read my Mandie books every so often. Why won’t Mandie just get into a relationship with Joe!??!)

  2. bekahcubed says:

    Your confession put a smile on my face. I LOVED the Mandie books when I was a kid. I re-read them again maybe three years ago(?) It’s amazing how perspectives change–I had a harder time reading those as an adult because I was shocked at 1) the lack of character development throughout and 2) the undertones of works’ righteousness. Then again, I wouldn’t have recognized the second when I was first reading them, since I was pretty caught up in works righteousness myself. But, yeah, Mandie and Joe. Why couldn’t she just see what was in front of her face?

  3. Ruth says:

    I have all 12 in hard copy back home and my momma is coming up next week if you want her to bring them!

  4. Diane says:

    Thanks for your thoughts and the review. It sounds like an interesting and cute book! :O)

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