Book review: Amy Inspired

Amy Gallagher is living the writer’s life. No, not the one you see in the movies, where a dreamy-eyed woman wearing a crisp white blouse is tucked into a garret on a quiet fall day, a steaming cup of tea at her side, peacefully typing the orderly words that spill from her wise, thoughtful soul. (For one thing, real writers don’t use that many adjectives in one sentence.)

Amy is living a real writer’s life – toiling in anonymity as an adjunct faculty member at a small Ohio college by day, accumulating rejection slips during her off hours. A compulsive list-maker, Amy is trying to make sense of her vocational and relational dead ends in Bethany Pierce’s second novel, Amy Inspired (Bethany House, 2010). The cast of characters in Amy’s very believable world (a fundie mom, a socially-awkward office mate, a free-spirit roommate and best friend, a guy who lands on their couch due to a bedbug infestation in his old apartment) each gently tug her out of her rut and toward the kind of risk she’s carefully avoided all of her life.

As Amy’s layers of self-protection are peeled away, she is able to make an honest assessment of herself:

Childhood was the kernel around which my adult self had been collaged. To age was not to mature but to accumulate. Achievements, expectations, experiences, disappointments – badges applied thin and too early lacquered in place, a mishmash of cheap decoupage. But under the miscellany – the adult I had made of myself – the original self would not be suppressed; she was as close and immutable and necessary as the muscle beating resolutely within my chest. And she wanted the same thing, always…

I liked Pierce’s writing, and the world she created for Amy to inhabit. And if you enjoy contemporary fiction that is as much journey to self-discovery as it is love story, you’ll enjoy Amy Inspired.

*Bethany House provided me with a review copy of this book.

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