Monday, February 07, 2011

Kimberly Stuart's Operation Bonnet ~ Reviewed

Operation Bonnet
By: Kimberly Stuart
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 288
Vendor: David C. Cook
ISBN: 0781448913


Twenty-year-old Nellie Monroe has a restless brilliance that makes her a bit of an odd duck. She wants to be a private investigator, even though her tiny hometown offers no hope of clients.

Until she meets Amos Shetler, an Amish dropout carrying a torch for the girl he left behind. So Nellie straps on her bonnet and goes undercover to get the dish.

But though she’s brainy, Nellie is clueless when it comes to real life and real relationships. Soon she’s alienated her best friend, angered her college professor, and botched her case. Operation Bonnet is a comedy of errors, a surprising take on love, and a story of grace.


“Stubborn grace, it turned out, came in various forms, straight from the hand of God and in the form of a cranky old lady in a bonnet.” (p.262)

Operation Bonnet it the most original, funny, delightful tale that I have read in a very long time! The characters were such an eclectic group of people – each of them struggling with a private issue that ultimately led them to a very unexpected point of grace. Nellie is the protagonist of the story, and her twenty-year-old life makes about as much sense to her as the wild and unruly mane of red (excuse me, orange) curls that adorns her head. Born to a couple of people who’d rather play golf and spend money rather than raise their only daughter, Nellie finds herself caring for her grandmother and desperately trying to pursue the closest thing she has ever had to a dream – the life of a private detective.

Sounds like a hodge-podge of issues, huh? Well, once you meet Nona, Matt and Amos – oh, and don’t forget Tank! – this story takes on the characteristics of adventure, light romance, and contemporary, realistic issues that every man and woman have had to face at some point in time. Kimberly Stuart develops each character with their own, unique blend of quirkiness, and then intertwines their lives in such creative ways that the reader must keep the pages turning at a rather rapid clip to discover what becomes of their lives. There are Amish characters in the book, by the way, but not in any role that you’ve ever seen them placed within. That fact alone adds a bold, unique feel to this story amid everything I’ve been reading lately. I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I laughed out loud, giggled, cried and just simply sighed when I read the truth of the human condition so creatively captured in this story.

The truth in this story? Well, there are many truths about the human heart that will touch you. My favorite? Probably this one on page 213: “You cry or pout or laugh or whatever you must about what needs to be let go. And then let go. Never try to run the world. Only a God of bottomless grace can pull off a feat like that.” The journey that the reader takes until this point is one you won’t soon forget. This tender, funny story will linger in your heart for a very long time.

Bravo! Kimberly Stuart! Bravo!!

Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Bonus Review:

I love a novel that makes me laugh and makes me pause at moments of poignancy in between laughs. Operation Bonnet is a delightful story that does just that. I would not have picked up the book based on the cover or the title. I'm not a fan of the Amish trend in Christian publishing. However, another reviewer recommended it to me, suggesting that she thought I just might love it and she was right.

Kimberly Stuart has written previous novels that I've either liked or liked a lot. Operation Bonnet blows them all out of the water and is one I loved.

Nellie is a twenty-year-old crazy-haired girl genius with a hunger for private investigating and a sacrificial love for her Nona. Nellie works at a golf shop, studies PI techniques and takes care of her Nona while her parents travel the world. Her best friend Matt helps her score sweet spying tools and listens to her rants. Nona is losing it, but it's slow enough and the spells are infrequent enough that Nellie thinks she can hold off the inevitable. Her life is full. Rich? Fulfilling? Not quite because she lives in a town where crime is rare, stealth is rarely required, and folks are pretty decent. Boring. Then Amos, the used-to-be Amish boy comes to town. He is hired by Tank, the golf club owner, for the annual project, this year, a mini-golf course. Amos is a walking culture shock with a concern. One that he thinks he could hire Nellie, P.I. to look into. She only will need to infiltrate the tight-knit Amish community to help him out. One that he has been firmly shunned from.

Nellie enters a stretching period where she helps, in a backwards, inside-out and upside-down sort of way. And in the process she grows up a little bit and finds out a lot about life.

I loved this novel. Charming, sweet, funny, sweet, touching, did I say sweet, and interesting. If you read one novel this year, I'm thinking you could do far worse than this one.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Bonus Review:

The sight of this cover stopped me in my tracks as I tried to make sense of what this book might be about. Was this an Amish book? Not like any I’ve ever seen. I was thankful for the review copy of this book so I could find out what Kimberly Stuart was up to inside this new novel.

Operation Bonnet is the most hilarious P.I. detective story I’ve read in quite a while. The fact that Nellie Monroe’s first case involves her going undercover to gather information from inside an Amish community is a hoot and very clever, tongue and cheek writing on Kim’s part.

Nellie is a twenty something gal who definitely walks to the beat of her own drums, works hard, is serious about being the best PI possible, and is loyal and caring to her friends and family. She ponders why her grandmother loves God so much. Nellie asks her grandmother why she paints, “…first to honor God who paints the sunsets and oceans and human hearts. And second so I don’t get cranky like so many of the old people in this world.”

Nellie says, “I’ll go every week to the pastry shop and help bake. I’m not a cook and don’t care to be, but if I have to roll out pastry dough for three hours to get a woman to talk about what it’s like to be Amish and female in the twenty first century, doggone it, I will.”

Matt, Nellie’s friend since elementary school supports her in her P.I. career choice but has been acting kind of weird lately. Nellie has noticed his muscles, how Matt looks all manly all of a sudden and how her stomach has started to flip when he looks at her a certain way. What was going on there? She didn’t have time to figure out that right now she was in the middle of her first case! Her client was a shunned Amish boy named Amos and he needed her help.

Kimberly Stuart is not a new comer to Christian fiction but Operation Bonnet is the fist book I’ve read by this author. I love Kimberly’s humor and how real and honest Nellie is. I enjoyed Nellie’s friend Matt and how Amos seeks her for insider information from a certain Amish Community. Kimberly has a gift of making the reader laugh out-loud yet at the same time pens a spiritual thread that is sincere and natural. Kimberly reminded me of another author that makes me laugh out loud, Jenny B. Jones. I’ll definitely be looking for Kimberly Stuart’s other books. I can’t wait for her next book to hit the shelf; you’ll anxiously be waiting for it too.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

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Paris said...

I love the cover! I usually don't like Amish romances, but this book sounds really good! Great review(:

Kelly Klepfer said...

Paris, the cover is cute but the book is so much more that about a bonnet!!! And Amish romance in so not my cup o tea, either. This is a great read.