The Bailey Flanigan Series begins with Bailey leaving Bloomington for the adventure of a lifetime. She has won an audition for the ensemble of a Broadway musical in New York City. She’s determined to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity, but is she really ready to leave family and friends for the loneliness of the city? And what of Cody Coleman? His disappearance has Bailey worried about their future and praying that their love can survive.
In order to be closer to his mother in jail, Cody takes a coaching job in a small community outside Indianapolis. New friends, distance, and circumstances expose cracks in his relationship with Bailey Flanigan.
Love, loneliness, big opportunities, and even bigger decisions highlight the first book in the new Bailey Flanigan Series that features members of the popular Baxter family and finally completes the Bailey/Cody Story.
It’s not often that I read mainstream fiction as I’m more of a Sci-fi/fantasy type of reader, but I absolutely loved Leaving, the first book in the Bailey Flanigan Series by Karen Kingsbury. It’s a well crafted tale told from the perspectives of several characters all struggling with relatable problems while trying to place their faith in God.
As the series title suggests the book primarily follows Bailey Flanigan, a twenty-one year old girl who has dreams of working on Broadway and is struggling with her recent breakup with former boyfriend Cody Coleman who left her without an explanation. In addition to Bailey, the POV switches to the perspective of Cody who accepted a job near his mother’s prison while also dealing with war flashbacks, Jenny–Bailey’s mother–who struggles with the realization that her daughter is growing up, as well as Ashley and Landon Baxter who’re facing the dark possibly that Landon–a firefighter who worked at Ground Zero–may have a serious lung disease.
One of the things I liked about the book was how the various plot lines all centered around the books title. People come and go in our lives; some move away, some die, and some simply drift away. Bailey understands this well. At the opening page of the story she reflects on Cody’s absence which becomes even more profound when she’s offered a position on Broadway as she’ll leave her family. On the heels of that is a faith in God that is woven naturally into the narrative without feeling heavy handed. Every character struggles with the concept of leaving and every character tries to put their faith in God.
I related to all of the characters well, but Bailey is the one whom I had the closest affinity with. I was about her age when my then boyfriend broke up with me without giving a satisfactory reason. I went through the same hurt and heartbreak as she did while trying to go on with my life. I also understand what it’s like to contemplate leaving home and how terrifying that can be to get out into the real world without your family safety net being there to catch you. Bailey isn’t just the girl next door, she can easily be a reflection of you.
I was also impressed with how Karen managed to weave several POVs, incorporating character history without making it feel like a case of TMI. While this is the first of Karen’s books to feature Bailey and Cody front and center it’s not the first that they’ve been in (see the Firstborn Series) you don’t have to read those to grasp their history. Karen provides enough background so that you don’t feel as if you’ve been hurled into the middle of a conversation. You could read the Firstborn Series, but it’s not required to enjoy Leaving.
As a New York Times Bestselling Author with thirteen different series and nearly as many stand alone titles under her belt, Karen Kingsbury knows how to write faith driven books that people from all walks of life can relate to. Wherever you may be going in your life I recommend you take Leaving with you.
Disclaimer: I do not own the imagery used in this blog post and have no claim to it.