From LA to New York to Milan, Melody Carlsonís Ciao has all of the fashion, drama, and relationship issues a young girl could ever ask for. This is Carlsonís sixth novel in her On the Runway series. In this novel, Erin Forrester is trapped in the middle of her sister Paigeís drama with her fiancť and her own relationship problems with her on again/off again boyfriend, Blake, while trying to juggle her reality TV show and friendships along the way.
Erin is not sure where her relationship stands with Blake after everything that happened while she was away filming her show in the Bahamas. All she knows is she would be okay with an exclusive relationship. Unfortunately, he and his pal Ben are about to launch a new reality TV show which could ruin every chance of getting Blake to be her boyfriend again. Meanwhile, Erinís boss, Fran, is dealing with surgeries and chemotherapy, and her friend Mollie needs help with being a new mom to her baby, Fern. In the midst of dealing with all of these situations, Erin must also help Paige deal with her engagement to Dylan Marceau and the possibility of a cheating scandal.
Carlsonís language is simple and clear, making it perfect for teen readers. Her writing is a mix of dialogue and journal-style writing, written so that the reader is able to experience the progressing action while simultaneously being aware of Erinís feelings. Carlson sets up the characters so the reader does not need to have background knowledge from her previous books in the series. She allows the reader to see the dark side of Paige and how her lack of faith in God affects the way she lives. Carlson does an excellent job of portraying the fashion and television industries and the problems people involved seem to have with material and worldly things. Carlson portrays Erin as a beacon of hope in this messed up industry by allowing people into her life whom she can help her show Christian virtues.
Erinís main flaw seems to be that she is unable to lean on God and give Him her burdens without a reminder during her struggles. A central theme to this novel is Proverbs 3:5-6, which reads, ďTrust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straightĒ (NIV). At the beginning of the novel, Franís mother, Mrs. Bishop, is quite overbearing and wants to help Fran by taking everything into her own hands and not letting Fran decide what to do about her hospital care. Erin helps Mrs. Bishop learn to let God take her burdens regarding Franís situation. This allows the two to pray that God will help them not to lean on their own strength and understanding, but to be supportive of Fran. At the end of the novel, Erin encounters another situation where this verseís theme fits perfectly. God places Gabin in Erinís life to remind her to trust in God and rely on His strength through all of her hardships.
The main topics in this novel are romantic relationships and worldly/material issues, such as drinking, cheating, and wanting material possessions. Paige struggles with wanting to go further physically in her relationship with her fiancť, and she also seems to have had a drinking problem in the past. Erin is the only positive influence on Paigeís life, the one who is able to get through to her and help her realize when she is in murky waters. This novel has themes for maturing Christians and is perfect for teen girls who have a passion for fashion. Ė Diana L. Friend, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
The sweet life might just turn sour. After the events in the Bahamas, Paigeís engagement to designer Dylan Marceau is about to fall apartóand so is Paige. Erinís state of mind isnít much better. In addition to keeping Paige in check, Erin is dealing with Bryceís new TV career, as well as having to care for Fran during her chemo.
A trip to Milan might be the break both girls need, but things only seem to get more complicated once they land in Italy. Dylan is also in Milan, and Paigeís rekindled romance, combined with a new director, leaves Erin with more work on the show. Just when Erin canít take any more, she discovers a secret that could crush Paige. Clinging to God for direction, Erin must find the power to make a difficult choice, one that could not only hurt her sister but throw the show into turmoil.