Robin Jones Gunn is one of my favorite authors. She has written several series of Christian fiction for young girls and several non-fiction books. My daughter grew up on the Christy Miller series and has said many times that those books played a role in the choices she made in certain situations in her life.

I am so excited that Robin has started a new set of books called Haven Makers Series. Two of her characters from the young adult series show up in Book 1. I love when authors do that. You see the characters grow up, change, deepen their relationships, and develop areas of strength, just as we do in real life.

Robin writes in a way that makes you feel like you know these people and are invested in them. All of her books take you away from your world to another place where people are going through the same things you are and even when they mess up, she weaves the story to show the real life answers, sometimes God redeems our situations and sometimes we have to struggle for years and do not see answers.

There are several deep issues that Robin addresses in Becoming Us.

The main character, Emily, deals with panic attacks. These are becoming more prevalent due to stresses we are all dealing with and Robin shows how Emily handles these with the help of her daughter and husband. She also shows the emotional and embarrassing side of dealing with them. If you have ever struggled in this area, it is reassuring to read about someone else struggling to cope and gives encouragement that… you are normal.

When Emily opens up with a group of new friends about her struggle with secondary infertility and the panic attacks caused by trying to measure up in her husband’s family, Christy helps her step back and take a look at dealing with sharing such an intimate part of her life. Christy says,”…I know that sometimes when I open up that much in a new situation, I end up having a vulnerability hangover” (page 215). I love that term. How many times do we women open up to each other in a Bible study or Life group and later regret all that we shared, then spend days thinking about what we said over and over and over. Robin shows, through fiction, how to deal with it instead of berating ourselves forever.

Robin addresses how to deal with relationships that aren’t exactly what you would like them to be. Emily’s mother, a single parent, was very critical and hard on Emily while going easy on her brother. Another character, Tess, explains similar problems with her mother over the years. The group of friends end up discussing how to make the choice to reach out and love, when someone is not treating you the way they should. Here is one of my favorite excerpts from the book:

“‘It’s really all about choosing to love, isn’t it?” Jennalyn said. “I mean, we all have that power, don’t we?” “I think the power is in the choice,” Christy added…. “Right, because if you’re a victim, you don’t have a choice,” Sierra said. “But if you take back your ability to choose how you’re going to position yourself in a relationship, you aren’t at the other person’s mercy anymore. It is a superpower,….” (page 251)

What great counsel to “take back your ability to choose how you’re going to position yourself in a relationship“. So when we are dealing with problem relationships, we choose our stance and then we’re not at “the other person’s mercy anymore.”

The other really big issue that Robin addresses in this book is forgiveness. On pages 276 and 277 there is a running dialogue between Emily and Christy that covers this subject so well and shows the process to walk out forgiveness.

Here is a condensed excerpt:

“Don’t start beating yourself up,” Christy said. “Forgiveness and freedom is a process. I’m sure you know that.” “I’m learning.” “Todd (Christy’s husband) says that forgiveness is like taking a shower. You feel all fresh and friendly right at first and want to go out and take on the world. Then a few days later, you realize you have to get cleaned up all over again, as if nothing was accomplished earlier.” “That’s what it feels like with my mom. With other people it seems like I pray about it and it’s resolved. I move on.” “One and done,” Christy said with a grin. “Exactly. With my mom, it seems like it’s an ongoing process for the life of the relationship.” …”With some people, we just have to choose to release them and forgive them seventy times seven, as Todd says. If they’re not going to change, then we have the choice. Like Tess said. We can change.”

Robin has the ability to address all these hard issues and make you feel normal when you are dealing with the same problems. I highly recommend this book, for women of all ages, to encourage you as you struggle in life and to help you learn tips and tricks to make a little haven in your corner of the world.

What fiction have you read that has taught you valuable life lessons?