When Gia comes face to face with a past she didn’t know she had, will she learn to trust in a future she can’t control?
MEET GEORGIA GUSTAFSON
Gia Gustafson is officially coming of age… but now what? She feels like she’s standing still, while everything – and everyone – around her is moving at lightning speed. Her best friend, Ricky Zander, is acting like a stranger, her grandparents have grown old almost overnight, and her sisters have all found their happily-ever-afters.
Once again, Gia is the odd Gustafson Girl out.
Then there’s Angela Clinton, the girl who plowed her el Camino into the side of Paul and Simone Gustafson’s car when Gia was only four. After spending most of her adult life in jail, Angela is finally coming home, and she wants to make amends with the four sisters she made orphans so many years ago.
As if life wasn’t confusing enough, the gorgeous new guy at work is doing his best to sweep Gia off her feet, and Ricky is having none of it.
So when a stranger she’d recognize anywhere shows up unannounced on her doorstep, Gia isn’t so sure she’s ready to grow up after all.
MEET THE GUSTAFSON GIRLS
When Paul and Simone Gustafson are killed by a drunk driver, the lives of their daughters change irrevocably. Although raised by loving grandparents, it’s the G-FOURce–the Gustafson Four Sisters Club–that binds them together when their differences would tear them apart. All grown up now, Juliette has become the quintessential doormat, Renata, the self-appointed matriarchal figure. Phoebe is, at least according to Renata, borderline narcissistic, and Gia is on the verge of a major identity crisis.
And now, Angela Clinton, the senior class darling who drove her cherry black 1970 el Camino into the side of their parents’ car on the night of Juliette’s high school graduation, is back in town and looking for restoration. Will the G-FOURce be strong enough to hold the sisters together as they step into the eye of the storm that’s been brewing for the last sixteen years? Will they finally be able to let go of the past and embrace the future, no matter what it holds?
I love Ms. Doughty’s writing. She’s an incredible author, and in each of her books that I’ve read, she hasn’t been afraid to tackle real life issues and I appreciate that. All of the books in In her Gustafson Girls series have been fantastic reads and the latest in the series, Gia and the Blast from the Past is no exception.
The Gustafson Girls series is about four sisters, each book centering on a specific sister and her struggles as well as her relationships with her sisters. Each sister’s book allows you into her inner workings, past the outside view of them you are given in the other sisters’ books. Ms. Doughty does a wonderful job of really giving each sister’s point of view, and while they are all written by the same author, each book has a little different feel to it that fits the personality and perspective of that sister. You can check out my thoughts about the other books in the series at the links below:
While each of the books is based on a different sister’s journey and could be read as a standalone, I don’t really recommend it. There is a part of the storyline that is introduced in the first book and continues throughout each of the books with a final culmination of that situation in Gia’s book. That aspect of the storyline will be much better understood if the stories are read in order. If you haven’t read any of the series, they are listed above in the order you will need to read them.
Gia and the Blast from the Past gives us the inside scoop on Gia, the youngest sister. She’s quite a bit younger than the other sisters and this makes for a little perspective shift. Gia’s just entering the adult world and trying to figure some things out, including her own heart and mind. Feeling a bit rebellious against the idea of the good girl she’s been and like the secure atmosphere of her life also makes her feel “stuck,” she fights the beauty of “safe.” She’s hit with several surprises in this book that she has to figure out what they mean for her and how exactly to navigate the information and situations she’s faced with. Hurts, questions, doubts, uncertainties that have been building up in Gia come bursting forth—things she didn’t even know she struggled with, things that she’d tried to drown out—which have her feeling out of sorts and a bit out of control as she’s trying to figure out just what is going on with her usually compliant self. Ms. Doughty has an amazing way of letting you in on and making you feel the inner turmoil, chaos, and questioning going on inside of Gia.
In feeling all the different things she is and not understanding why she feels the way she does, Gia has some reactions to some of the people in her life that really aren’t fair to them, and I think that’s very relatable. How often do we react poorly to others in our own lives when we’re feeling conflicted on the inside and struggling to figure out what’s going on? Thankfully, Gia has some loving and wise people in her life to love on her, stand up for her, to support her, and to help her begin to sort through everything.
A few other things to love about this book: Even with the intensity of Gia’s journey in this book, it was fun to catch up a little with the other sisters and get glimpses of their continuing journeys. Grandpa and Granny Gustafson seem to make more of a prominent appearance in this book and I enjoyed getting to know them better. Angela Clinton’s story comes to a head and I love the way Ms. Doughty handles it. I want to say more, but I won’t because I don’t want to give any part of that away. I will let you discover it on your own. I will say that there is real life Christ likeness and Christianity in action demonstrated in and throughout the whole story.
I love how Ms. Doughty engages you in her characters’ struggles and how she writes real life situations in such a way that they’re relatable, even if it’s not something you personally have experienced. You can understand what the characters are going through and you empathize with them while wanting good to come out of what they’re dealing with. She brings to light the different points of view of the sisters and how each person’s own backstory can affect just how they see things. I know that she has opened my eyes to how I sometimes perceive people and how that perception of them just might not be accurate. She’s very gifted at opening her characters up so that you have a chance to understand them and their struggles, enabling you to maybe even better understand some of the people in your life you might have struggled with and making you a little more compassionate toward them. Through her writing, Ms. Doughty reminds you that people often have painful pasts and very real hurts and that individuals so often act or live a certain way because of what their dealing with. She does all this without judgement and with compassion. I love that Ms. Doughty has taken me on the journey of change in each character’s life, and that as a result, my own journey has been changed.
Ms. Doughty’s books are packed with emotion, imperfect characters with real struggles, and truth as well as grace and redemption and they are well worth the read. With her writing, she acknowledges real life situations, choices, and pain and heartache and that they can be answered with hope, healing, and joy through the redemptive work of a Savior. When it feels like everything is falling apart around us in our world and we’re being hit on every side, we have no idea just what God might be orchestrating to bring His healing and His hope into our lives, how He might be intricately weaving together the details of our lives to make beauty from ashes.
You can follow the below links to learn more about the books in the Gustafson Girls series and/or to select your preferred retailer to purchase the books from:
Juliette and the Monday ManDates—By they way, the ebook version of this one is free right now, so if you haven’t read any of the series, now’s a great time to grab the first book and check this series out.
Renata and the Fall from Grace
Phoebe and the Rock of Ages
Gia and the Blast from the Past—This one is on sale for a limited time in celebration of it’s recent release.
**I received a copy of this book from the author and have chosen to review it. My opinions are my own.