Book Review

Island Dreamer by Robin Jones Gunn has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the fifth book in the “Christy Miller" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

With her 16th birthday only a few days away, Christy Miller needs to practice driving to get her license, but she’s afraid. After crashing into a light pole in an empty parking lot, Christy worries she won’t pass the test. However, she is looking forward to spending the next two weeks with her best friend, Paula, who is coming to California for a visit. Although excited, Christy is disappointed that she won’t be spending her birthday with the boy she likes, Todd Spencer, since Todd will be in Maui helping Christy’s uncle fix up his two condos.

Once Paula arrives, she chatters about her plans to get a tan and a boyfriend while she’s in California. Christy finds that she is embarrassed by her friend’s words and, later, her dramatic antics. As the girls notice how much each has changed in the last year, Christy’s affluent Aunt Marti announces that the whole family and Paula will be going to Hawaii in two days.

Christy is excited to spend her birthday on a tropical island and be with Todd. Her excitement is short-lived, though, because once in Hawaii, Paula decides to pursue Todd herself. The two girls compete for Todd’s attention and squabble over their differences. Although Christy is jealous of Paula, Todd lets her know that he prefers her company.

By the end of the week, Christy realizes she needs to pray for Paula rather than compete against her. Eventually, Christy passes her driver's test, and Paula gives the credit for this to Christy's driving experience on the Hana Road. The girls are closer friends when Paula leaves than they were when she came, and Christy is sad to see her go.

Christian Beliefs

For the past year, Christy has been witnessing to Paula through letters. But when Paula arrives in California, she tells Christy to stop preaching at her and let her [Paula] make her own mistakes. When Christy’s friend Katie finds out about the surprise trip to Hawaii, she calls it a “God-thing.” Katie explains that a “God-thing” is when something happens in a person’s life that can’t be explained by any earthly means; it’s God working.

While in Hawaii, Christy and her mom tour the Baldwin Missionary Home and hear about the persecution of the early island missionaries. Christy is amazed that although the missionaries were attacked and ridiculed for the message they preached, they did not retaliate. Instead, they prayed for their enemies. Later, Christy decides to pray and ask God to help her not be jealous of Paula.

After they return to California, Christy apologizes for trying to force her friend to become a Christian. Paula responds by encouraging Christy to keep writing about God in her letters, but to let Paula decide for herself whether she wants to follow God.

After Paula returns home, Christy meets up with Alissa, a girl she met the previous summer. Over the last year, Alissa became pregnant, gave birth to a baby girl and chose to place her baby for adoption. She tells Christy that she wants to have the same kind of relationship with God that Christy and Todd have. The two girls pray, and Alissa asks God to come into her life.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Christy’s dad takes her to the church parking lot to practice for her driver’s test. At first, he teases her because of how slowly she drives. When the car hits a light pole, he yells at her, but he quickly changes his tone when he realizes that there is not a lot of damage. He encourages Christy to get right back in the driver’s seat and try again. When they return home, Christy’s mom tells her that she shouldn’t be disappointed if she’s not ready to take her driver’s test.

As the family is driving to the airport to pick up Paula, Christy’s mom yells at Christy and her younger brother, David, for fighting. Later, when Aunt Marti buys Paula a new bathing suit, Christy remembers what happened with her aunt the previous summer: Although Aunt Marti bought Christy whatever she wanted, every gift came with strings attached. That experience taught Christy that she would rather be content with what she had than to be under the control of her aunt.

Christy admires her dad because he is happy that the rest of the family is going to Hawaii, even though he has to stay home and work at the dairy farm. On their trip to Hana, Todd tells Christy a story about his dad. When Todd was 10 years old, his dad jumped off the Hana bridge into the water 60 feet below. He encouraged Todd and his friend Kimo to jump into the water, too. Kimo jumped, but Todd didn’t. Later, Todd’s dad told his son that he admired him for not jumping even when his friend did. It showed that Todd was able to make his own decisions.




When Paula finds out that Todd has only kissed Christy about five times, she immediately assumes that he is seeing someone else. If he liked Christy, he would have been more physically aggressive. Christy is the only other virgin Paula knows. All of her friends back home have slept with guys. Christy assures Paula that she will not sleep with a man until her wedding night. Paula is determined to lose her virginity while she’s in California.

When she arrives in Newport Beach, Paula buys a skimpy hot pink bikini during a shopping spree with Aunt Marti. Paula tells Christy’s mom that she’ll only wear the bikini while sunbathing and that she’ll wear her old one-piece bathing suit for swimming. However, she tries to leave her one-piece suit at Christy’s house before they go to Hawaii. Christy finds Paula’s bathing suit in the laundry and brings it to Maui, where she returns it to an upset Paula.

Before Paula leaves for home, she says she is going to take Todd's advice and hold out for a hero instead of settling for a guy who doesn't respect her. Later, Christy writes a letter to her future husband, telling him that she promises to save herself for him. Todd kisses Christy before he jumps off the Hana bridge.

Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments/Notes

Deception: Paula and Christy miss their flight to Maui when Paula thinks she sees a celebrity and goes down the wrong hallway at the airport. When they finally find Christy’s mom, Paula tells her a dramatic story about a man who followed them and then tried to kidnap them. As a result of Paula’s tears, an airline attendant clears three seats for them on a different flight to Hawaii. Christy feels guilty, but Paula is happy that everything worked out well.

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Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

12 and up


Robin Jones Gunn






Record Label



Bethany House Publishers, a division of the Baker Publishing Group


On Video

Year Published