I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by CelebrateLit. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.Beauty from Ashes by Alana Terry
Series: Orchard Grove #1
Published by Pronoun on August 18th 2017
Genres: Christian, Fiction, General
A baby was never part of Tiff’s plans. Especially not a sick baby in a NICU, struggling for life on a ventilator.As days in the hospital turn to weeks, Tiff grows more and more convinced that God is punishing her for turning her back on him so many years ago. Or is it possible he’s working in the midst of her daughter’s bleak prognosis to draw Tiff back to himself once more?The Orchard Grove Christian Women’s Fiction books are standalone literary novels about real-life believers facing real-life struggles. You won’t meet perfect saints whose lives are faultless models of the Christian faith. Instead, you’ll meet a perfect God whose plans of redemption are far more glorious than what the mortal mind could ever imagine.The Orchard Grove books are a literary series of family-drama stories with realistic characters facing gritty issues that confront contemporary Christians today. Standalone novels from award-winning Christian fiction novelist Alana Terry, whose books “inspire without preaching at you,” these titles merge edgy Christian fiction, literary prose, and a God compassionate enough to look upon those who suffer and “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes ... a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 60:3).
Before we dive into all the reasons I’m in love with this book and perhaps this author there’s a few things I feel it is imperative to share with you. Tiff (the main character) is a Christian, sorta. As a child of the foster system she was blessed to have spent time in a loving Christian foster home that she aged out of. While she’s got the background she doesn’t have the faith commitment nor the faith lifestyle. There are some references in this book that may be offensive to some. Life happens in this book (things like pregnancy outside of marriage) and some people might take offense to that in a Christian based book. OK, lets move on shall we?
I’ve dealt with a NICU baby, a couple of them. My local bestie can’t seem to have a baby that’s not a preemie. However, all my Minions are happy and healthy and perfect. I can’t imagine finding myself in Tiff’s shoes with a baby that probably will never know me. I can’t imagine myself in her shoes with a boyfriend that only really reached that status because they got pregnant. And a mother-in-law that makes any of Disney queen-villains look like the princesses. (You know what I mean, come off as sweet but really dripping evil.) And a baby that needs round the clock care. Grandma Lucy who was sorta a weird side-effect of this book that was unsettling how she came to the picture and refreshing as her role settled into place. I still don’t quite grasp the bigger picture with her but the little pictures were just fine. Let’s face it…
I LOVED this book! It took me a moment to settle into the first person account of Tiff’s life and the need to check my synopsis to ensure I could remember her name since I don’t remember it coming out in the actual print for a while. It also took me a minute to catch on to what was going on with Tiff and her little family and her daughter since she just sorta jumped right into her moment and carried it forward from there. Tiff was so completely well developed that I didn’t need to know that whole she-bang. It’s written as if we had met (like in real life) and I was getting to know her at the same time as learning what she had been through. It was real and raw and it didn’t need to follow some perfect story-line formula. Honestly, if it had I probably wouldn’t have loved it near as much. This book is so complex yet simple, so well developed that it just flows like warm honey, and so embracing it’s like a cozy blanket. It’s deep and dark, it’s light and funny, at times it’s even dark and funny.
This book was more than that though. It was accidentally falling back in faith and finding out that it never really left you. It’s about figuring out that faith isn’t once size fits all and that you can ‘pray a prayer’ but that doesn’t fix everything. Faith isn’t just a feeling, feelings fade away and change but faith is always there. It’s been a while since I got to spend some time with a character who was so real in a Christian fiction novel. Through it all she never once didn’t feel real, even her continuing struggle with balancing faith and the life she was handed wasn’t squeaky clean. That’s a struggle for me with faith-based fiction, too good too fast and all based on the feeling. This author gets it for me. I’ve never read her before but I can’t wait to read her again. I feel like this post is all about gushy but ya know, that’s how I feel.