Longing, Karen Kingsbury’s novel, is the third book in her four- book Bailey Flanigan Series, entitled, Leaving, Learning, Longing and Loving. The publisher is Zondervan (2011). Although I have only read Longing, I enjoyed it immensely and would recommend it to women 18 and above.

Bailey Flanigan comes from a solid Christian home and has dreams of dancing on Broadway. Although she spent many years dating Cody Coleman, a young man who is very close to the Flanigan family, she now begins to change and draw closer to Brandon Paul. He is her one-time Hollywood co-star, who recently came to know Christ through her influence. Bailey and Cody have been broken up for awhile, but when they see each other, strong feelings remain.  Bailey is dancing in a Broadway show.

Cody now coaches football in another town and is dating a young woman named Cheyenne, who lost the love of her life in the war. Cheyenne is also recovering from a serious accident. She is in a very close relationship with Art’s mother, who considers her a daughter.

Cody’s work coaching a small-town football team brings him and his players national attention. They play a game the day after Thanksgiving in Bailey’s hometown and Bailey comes to watch. At one point, they spot each other, their eyes meet, and they realize there are many unresolved feelings between them. Cody comes to visit her that night and she questions him as to why he has always run from her. He admits his fear of losing her has kept him from giving his heart fully to her, and now their lives are more complicated with Brandon and Cheyenne in the background. They are willing to let go and see where the Lord leads them both.

Bailey returns to New York and the Broadway show she has been . dancing in. She reaches out to her unsaved cast members through a Bible Study she begins. Several are searching and they have many questions.

I have been involved in theater for many years. Bailey’s actions made me remember the times other cast members and I gathered to pray for our productions and everyone in them. My husband has been an orchestral conductor for many community productions. One night he joined a prayer circle of actors, where the lead actor broke down crying, stating that night was the first in five years that he prayed, shed his bitterness toward God, and returned to Jesus. I know these prayers and groups can be very powerful in the lives of all those involved.

Similarly Bailey shares her faith and several cast members come to know the love of Christ, seeking him above the glory and glamour the world offers. Two others accept Christ close to Christmas time. This thrills Bailey. It also thrills Brandon who has been in New York for awhile, attending every one of her performances. His movie contract will soon begin in California. He and Bailey are praying about where the Lord is leading them.

Cody is also experiencing a season of spiritual growth. His girlfriend, Cheyenne, develops brain cancer and goes through treatment. Cody cannot share this information with the Flanigan family, as she has asked him to keep it secret. He is crushed, yet the Lord teaches him so much through this experience.

Bailey’s show on Broadway suddenly ends and although she is disappointed, she sees it as a stepping stone to her probable future with Brandon. She comes home for a few weeks to prepare for her next stage of life–a stay in California, with Christian theater friends, Dayne and Katy. While Bailey is staying in her hometown, she and her family learn of the seriousness of Cheyenne’s illness. When Cheyenne passes away, Bailey delays her trip to California for a few days out of respect for what Cody is going through.

Cody and Bailey talk and realize that even though God does not have them in a serious love relationship, He has called them to be friends and support each other when they are able. She expresses her sorrow over his loss. They experience some cleansing, and a new beginning on a different level of Christian care.

Bailey flies to California and stays with friends. Although Brandon is ready to propose to Bailey, he takes Dayne’s advice to wait, allow Bailey time to get settled, and see what the Lord has in store for her. She struggles with all the paparazzi surrounding Brandon. Yet, she sees God’s leading and is willing to trust Him.

The novel ends and the reader is expected to move on to the book Loving to discover what the final ending will be. I am certainly looking forward to that and I know you will be too. This book has taught me a lot about growth, change, and how all things, even the heartbreaking ones, work out for good in His plan.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”