All In: Review

ALL IN
by
L.K. Simonds
Genre: Gritty Realistic / Christian Fiction
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Date of Publication: August 27, 2019
Number of Pages: 282

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A woman’s empty pursuit of happiness leads to a crisis before finding redemption in the Lord in this challenging and gritty Christian novel.

Twenty-nine-year-old novelist and blackjack dealer Cami Taylor seems to have it all—but just underneath her confident exterior and newfound celebrity is a young woman in trouble. Cami’s boyfriend, Joel, wants to get married, buy a house on Long Island, and raise a family—a life that’s a million miles from Cami’s idea of happiness. Her therapist suggests compromise and trust, but Cami would rather bolt like a deer.

Breaking things off with Joel, Cami launches herself on a new quest for happiness. But her pursuit of pleasure only takes her further from herself—and toward a harrowing new reality unlike anything she’s faced before. What follows for Cami is a fight to the death that can only be waged with God’s love.

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L.K. SIMONDS PRESENTS CAMI TAYLOR:

Cami is as independent of a character you can get. She’s a writer that observes people, imagining their lives and motives, but ultimately pushing them away to remain in her bubble. When faced with someone seeking more, a typical ‘white-picket fence’ life, she wants nothing more than to run. While she struggles to determine what she really wants in life, her own decisions and discoveries leave her even more at odds. There’s more to loneliness than being lonely. Cami struggles with this existential dread that seems to have her denying wanting anything more for herself. From the start she says about relationships:

 

“I’m only twenty-nine years old, but I’ve pretty much seen and done it all. What are my choices, really? Apparently, the road to happiness must be traveled in vehicles I loathe: Sacrifice. Compromise. Surrender.”

 

I found it almost comical reading this at beginning of her narrative. Maybe it was hard to be in her shoes in this aspect but being in your twenties and thinking you’ve seen it all really stuck with me. I’ve been there. Then, of course, a few years or months pass and perspective hits you in the face. Cami is very analyzing to her own feelings but keeps this all in. Being the reader to these thoughts and feelings was a great choice and one of my favorite aspects to the book. To an outside perspective, it would be difficult to like Cami’s character and the actions she takes. Of course, most of her behavior seems to be a challenge to others and how they’ll react. While I type this, I realize how critical it may sound towards Cami. Ultimately, she’s human and has made mistakes. She struggles and is down to earth in a way that she is completely drifting aimlessly. Like many of us. She doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. It’s when everything starts to fall apart and her emotions are on the peak of exploding that she starts to snap out of this.

 

I went to Catholic school for ten years. Has this made me more faithful? Has this made me less? I can say is that it gave me clarity towards living constantly surrounded by faith and then not when I left. I share this because I can see why this Christian Fiction can have mixed views. Faith isn’t always easy. Especially if your intention is to share it with someone. I think that All In shares something different here. An emotional path, one with desperation but also acceptance. Maybe faith won’t heal all wounds but it helps accept them. I think Cami finds most of her peace this way. After living her formative years thinking it was normal to feel underwhelmed, meaning in God gives her hope for more.

 

Funnily enough, the ending reminded me of one of my favorite books, Life of Pi. I won’t share spoilers, but the book definitely had subtle metaphors that made me think of it. Not every person of faith or none will like the ending. Or maybe they will. It depends on our own emotional journey and what has lead us to this point. Maybe even putting aside faith, a reader will appreciate the impressive first novel Simonds released. They’ll enjoy the inner complexities of Cami and hopefulness of Kate. They’ll love the building of scenes that paint descriptive and engaging imagery that spark your imagination. They’ll think on their own faith and discuss it with others. A success in my opinion!

 

L. K. Simonds is a Fort Worth local. She has worked as a waitress, KFC hostess, telephone marketer, assembly-line worker, nanny, hospital lab technician, and air traffic controller. She’s an instrument-rated pilot and an alumna of Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas. All In is her first novel.

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JANUARY 14-24, 2020

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2 thoughts on “All In: Review

  1. Haley, I absolutely love that you saw the comedy in Cami thinking she had seen and done it all and your observation that she didn’t know what she didn’t know. Thank you for this beautiful review. Means so much.

    Liked by 1 person

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