It has taken me over a two and a half weeks to type this review of Wanda B. Campbell’s Back To Me. I say type since I’ve had it written since the day after I finished the book.
My admiration of Ms. Campbell’s work is no secret, and her latest novel is no different. It has taken me so long to type this review since I spent time licking my wounds. If Back To Me were an arrow, I would be the bull’s-eye it hits. Paige McDaniels, the main character in Back To Me is a self-righteous, holier than thou, judgmental, borderline snob-and I can relate to her completely. While our emotional baggage is different, the character of Paige was a hard pill for me to swallow. Wanda B. Campbell once again provides a unique perspective through Paige McDaniels. Often in Christian Fiction the focus is on the fallen, the ones who have strayed away or the ones who have never known about God. In Back To Me, the focus is on the “perfect” Christians; Christians who appear to do all of the right things, but find themselves lacking in their walk with God.
This review will be harder for me to write since I truly connected to Paige as a character and the way Ms. Campbell crafted the story around her made her very real to me.
Paige McDaniels is a successful realtor and the perfect Christian. She sings in the choir at every service on Sunday (in fact she attends church every time it’s open), prays over every morsel of food and gives all of her free time to volunteer work. But why does she cry herself to sleep repenting to God nearly every night?
Sergio-Xavier Winston Simone can’t believe that people as stuck up as Paige McDaniels exist, or that he feels led to help her.
With the help of her spiritual mentors, close friends, mentees and Sergio-Xavier, Paige begins her journey towards forgiveness.
At times in this book, I found myself wanting to reach into the book and slap some sense into Paige. Her arrogance and snobby tendencies made me dislike her at first, but also empathize with her. Paige McDaniels is utterly human, and it shows in the duality of her persona. On one hand she is a well-educated, successful business woman who is dedicated to her church and volunteer work. On the other, she is a broken spirit whose snobby and judgmental nature appears to be born out of her spiritual insecurities.
Sergio-Xavier Winston Simone-
Sergio-Xavier is blunt. If you are looking for a sensitive romantic hero that sweeps the heroine off her feet, and tells her that she is perfect, you will not find that in this book. His honesty hurt my feelings as a reader at times.
Family, close friends, and a group of business-minded teenage girls round out the supporting characters in Back To Me. Like Sergio-Xavier, no one in Paige’s circle minced their words in their dealings with her. While, at times, they can appear harsh it is plain that they are speaking from love and not malice.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Ms. Campbell’s Back To Me, however; I would not classify this as a romance like her other works. To me the most important storyline concerned Paige forming an honest and trusting relationship with God. As mentioned earlier, some of the things Sergio-Xavier said hurt me as a reader, and I could only imagine how Paige felt. After that, I had a hard time feeling the love between Paige and Sergio. I almost needed to read more about the development of their love; it felt a bit one-sided at times. I felt that Paige was always the one who needed to do the correcting and Sergio-Xavier was perfect. But Ms. Campbell also did a great job of showing that Sergio-Xavier was not perfect and had experienced a hard time in his life as well. I guess Paige was entering into a season of change. For her to grow into a stronger person in Christ, remove the guilt associated with her past and find happiness-she had to experience this tumultuous time.
In Back To Me Wanda B. Campbell is raw and unedited. There aren’t any sifted scriptures that are coated with sugar, gum drops and false dreams. Numerous times I found myself cringing at Paige’s actions, and laughing at the tough love she received.
Would I Recommend?
Disclaimer: I am completely bias when it comes to Ms. Campbell’s work, I will always recommend her books to read.
That being said, seeing that this book included characters from previous books, I wouldn’t recommend this book as a first book to read by Ms. Campbell. To fully understand the story, I would begin reading Silver Linings and work chronologically through Ms. Campbell’s work before reading Back To Me. Paige was a secondary character in Doin’ Me and Sergio-Xavier is a member of the Simone family mentioned in First Sunday in October, Games, Liberation, and Unresolved Issues. READ THE BOOKS IN ORDER (please 🙂 ).
* According to a recent blog post by Ms. Campbell, she recently experienced a loss, my prayers and thoughts are with her family.