About the Book
Name of book: Beauty from Ashes
Author: Alana Terry
Genre: Christian Women’s Lit
Release Date: July, 2017
I read a book by Alana Terry a year or two ago and found it excellent. I’ve been seeing her name lately, so when I was offered the opportunity to review her new book, Beauty From Ashes, I decided it sounded like a good story. I was not wrong—this is an excellent book.
Tiff tells her story in this book, starting with being in church for the first time in years. Her husband, Jake, took her there, and she went because she didn’t have the energy to argue about it. She gets the surprise of her life when an old woman stands up to pray—and suddenly, Tiff is given hope for her tiny baby, Natalie, who spent her first month in NICU because of a brain bleed. Natalie doesn’t respond to anything, has never cried, and can’t even swallow her own saliva. What will become of her? And what will become of Jake and Tiff, as Jake’s mother, whose marriages both ended in divorce, has moved in with them and taken over care of the baby? Can Jake and Tiff manage to stay together, or will their lifelong patterns continue to cause relationship problems?
I found the writing style unique; Tiff tells her story in first-person present tense, with constant flashbacks to fill in the backstory. These flashbacks are not annoying, but done very well, as Tiff thinks about her past and tries to figure out her present. I absolutely loved the growth I saw in her life during the short span of time covered in this fairly long book, and rooted for her every step of the way. It was never obvious, however, what would happen: Would Natalie live or die? Would Tiff walk out on Jake or stick with him? And what about Jake? Would he stick with Tiff, or be influenced too much by his mother? This is not a happily ever after story; it is a realistic story. I loved it, though. One of my favorite scenes is Grandma Lucy’s celebration of life. I couldn’t believe what happened there—such a great touch.
I found Beauty From Ashes a very refreshing change of pace from most women’s fiction. Women’s fiction is mostly romances, where a strong, wonderful man sweeps a woman off her feet and somehow solves all her problems. This book, on the other hand, has as characters a weak, vulnerable woman and a man vacillating between what is right and what he’s always known and done. And in the middle of it all, God is working.
One thing that makes this book very real is the fact that the author is writing from experience. She had a baby in NICU for the same reason that Natalie was in there. Tiff’s feelings are portrayed so clearly—this is the author speaking from her heart. Don’t read this book if you want a story to make you feel good; read it if you want reality.
I received a copy of this book as a gift from the author, but was under no obligation to write a positive review.
WARNING: Many times, Tiff mentions having had boyfriends in her bedroom as a teenager, or being in a vehicle with them. These scenes are never described explicitly, but you know what was going on. Also, Jake admits once to cheating on her.
The Author’s Synopsis:
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.
About the Author:
Alana is a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second.
Guest Post from Alana Terry:
Click here to see the special video message from Alana.
“You better come in,” I told my husband. “The doctors don’t think he’s going to make it.”
Not the kind of conversation you want to have with anyone at one o’clock in the morning. I was spending the night at the hospital with our nine-month-old baby Silas and hadn’t left the hospital complex in days. Scott was home with our toddler trying to get some sleep.
And our son Silas was dying.
Raising a medically-fragile baby changed me like nothing else ever has. Thankfully, Silas pulled through that horrific evening, but that didn’t mean life was sugar and cream from then on.
As anyone with experience knows, it’s hard work being a special-needs mom.
And it can devastate a marriage.
Thankfully, God brought my husband and me through those nearly impossible first few years while Silas was in and out of the hospital with no guarantee of his survival.
And he continued to sustain us through even more years of therapy, hospital visits, and medical tests.
And now we have a happy marriage, a healthy boy, and hearts full of gratitude for all God’s done for us.
But I never want to forget where we were.
The depths God delivered us out of.
The despair that would have overwhelmed us if God hadn’t been our strength and our support.
Writing Beauty from Ashes was one way to remind myself of those difficulties God brought us through. It’s not strictly autobiographical, but the baby in this novel went through a very similar traumatic birth experience as Silas did, and all the health issues — including that night in the hospital when I truly thought we were going to lose our baby — are based on the trials we went through when Silas was young.
I wrote Beauty from Ashes because we all need to be reminded every now and then that even though life can be impossibly hard, even though there’s no guarantee our children will grow up and love Christ and make good choices with their lives or even survive until adulthood at all, God is good, and he will sustain us through all the trials we have to endure.
I think that’s why Beauty from Ashes resonates so much with Christian readers hungry for more than a simple story with a happily-ever-after ending, like these readers:
“…by far some of the best Christian fiction I’ve read.” Amy L, author
” … a story that is both heart-wrenching and heartwarming.” ~ Jaime Hampton, award-winning author of Malnourished
“I didn’t think it was possible that the author could write any better than she already does … This is a book I will never forget … She writes with realism and doesn’t pull any punches … Every time I read a book from this author, my faith grows.” Deana at Texas Bookaholic
I hope you’ll take a chance to grab your own copy of Beauty from Ashes today, and don’t forget to watch the video and enter to win the $100 gift card to christianbooks.com.
Because Christian fiction should encourage, edify, and inspire.
And because God is big enough to carry all our burdens.
Click here to purchase your copy.
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