Longing, book three in the Bailey Flanigan Series, picks up where Learning ends. After a long and lonely silence from Cody Coleman, Bailey Flanigan draws closer to her one-time Hollywood co-star, Brandon Paul. Afternoons on Brandon’s yacht and long talks on the beach beneath Brandon’s Malibu Beach home make Bailey dizzy with new feelings and cause her to wonder if her days with Cody are over forever.
Meanwhile, Cody’s work coaching a small-town football team has brought him and his players national attention. In the midst of the celebration and success, Cody finds himself close to a woman who seems to better understand him and his new life. Even so, little time goes by without Bailey and Cody experiencing very real feelings of longing for each other, longing both for the past and for answers before they can move forward.
Will an unexpected loss be the turning point for Cody? And when he and Bailey find themselves together again for the first time in more than a year, will honesty prevail? Will memories of brilliant days gone by be enough to restore feelings now put aside? And if so, will their brief time together be enough to help them find what they’ve been longing for?
The third book in the Bailey Flanigan Series, Longing by Karen Kingsbury expands upon its predecessor by showing how the characters long for things–both what they want in life and in having a closer relationship with God. It’s also a tale that addresses a question that we all face at some point in our life; why do tragedies occur and why do terrible things happen to good people? Told primarily from three POVs, Longing shows that–no matter where we are or where we are going–God is already there and willing to lead us if our longing allows it.
Longing is told from the POVs while also giving some closure to the events surrounding other characters in the series. When the Broadway production Hairspray closes down, Bailey decides to focus on her growing love for Brandon Paul and considers auditioning for movies in L.A., but is unsure if she can deal with the lifestyle. Brandon Paul loves Bailey beyond all reason and–in Bailey’s words–pursues her like a dying man pursuing water in a desert. He longs to marry her, but struggles with the feeling that God doesn’t believe that it’s the right time. Despite breaking up with her, Cody still has strong feeling for Bailey and is trying to come to terms with how it all went wrong when Cheyenne–his current girlfriend–is given devastating news. The book also addresses Ashley and Landon Baxter–a firefighter who worked at Ground Zero–who can no longer fight fires because of his lungs and now searches for his new purpose that God has for him. Ashley Flanigan–Bailey’s mom–has difficulty accepting that Cody and Bailey’s relationship is over.
I love how this book was structured in that the character’s victories were often overcome by difficulties or tragedies, all of which made the situations relatable to everyday life. People lose their jobs on the heels of something wonderful happening, illness can strike immediately after success, and yes, it can seem like the end of the world when you can no longer do the work that you love. Each of the characters in Longing face this and desire for things to be different–both in good times and bad–but their struggle to rise above it, to put their faith in God and what he wants for them, is the most sympathizing aspect of their situations.
The tragedy that Cody faces with Cheyenne is especially poignant. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read the book, but it makes me feel sad every time I read it. Cheyenne has gone through so much–from her child hood to the car accident–that it seems ridiculous what happens to her. As Cody asks more than once, why would God allow such a terrible thing to happen? We don’t always get answers to such questions, but the book seems to say that we can find comfort in God’s embrace.
At its heart, Longing is a story about people who desire certain things, but don’t know how to get to them or even if they can. I think the answer to that can be found in the last chapter told from Ashley’s perspective; trust that God has a plan. And instead of trying to write your life’s story by yourself, put the pen down and let God give it a go.
Disclaimer: I do not own the imagery used in this blog post and have no claim to it.