You know those books you have to ration as you approach the last page because you can’t get enough and don’t want the story end? This was one of those books. Except I lost that battle because I couldn’t stop turning the pages. It was that good.
Here’s what it’s about (from publisher Waterbrook-Multnomah):
Sometimes everything you ever learned about yourself is wrong.
Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth—appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows—so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line—an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.
If only her tenuous future didn’t rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the façade she works so hard to maintain. He, along with a cast of other characters, challenges everything Ivy has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her—a woman stained and broken by the world—yet wants her still?
To learn more, visit the publisher’s Web site for news, reviews, and an excerpt. But first…
Here are my thoughts:
I have a soft spot for stories that deal with forgiveness and redemption, particularly when done well, and this one handled those themes very well. Each of the characters had some tough lessons to learn over the course of the story before a happy ending could be had, but none of those lessons felt forced or contrived. Each of the characters went through gradual, sometimes painful, and definitely challenging growth, one step at a time. I absolutely loved watching it all unfold. And watch it I did. Smell and hear it too, thanks to all the vivid sensory details included.
One of the things that really got my attention was the way the author used visual items and circumstances within the surroundings as triggers and metaphors for some of the lessons the characters were learning. It gave the book a literary quality that I really enjoyed and that tied everything together beautifully. Here’s one of my favorite passages, drawn from pages 183-4:
“I’m glad God’s like those butterflies and not like that crab bait,” Sara said.
Davis took another bite of his peach and wiped at the juice dribbling down his chin.
Ivy raised an eyebrow. “You’re glad God’s not like a bloody chicken neck?”
“I’m glad God doesn’t plunk Himself into the water and wait for us to find Him. I’m glad He chases us like that butterfly.”
I think the butterfly vs. chicken neck metaphor illustrates an important point for the story in a way that’s vivid and memorable as well as surprising. And I think this passage works even better in context. You’ll just have to read the book, so you can let me know if you agree.
That wasn’t the only instance where one of the characters made a meaningful point in an unexpected way. I also thoroughly enjoyed the part on pages 260-1 where Pastor Voss looks at the familiar story of the Prodigal Son from a fresh perspective that suits this story perfectly.
A Broken Kind of Beautiful has compelling and loveable characters, a meaty subject dealt with in a touching way without becoming cheesy, and a powerful message that’s not intrusive, but feels like a natural outgrowth of the story. In some ways, this book reminds me of Francine Rivers’s Redeeming Love, and I think fans of that book will enjoy this one as well. As will anyone who enjoys a good contemporary inspirational romance. I’m so glad I had the chance to read it!
Now I need to go look for Katie Ganshert’s earlier books, Wildflowers from Winter, a Carol Award Winner and Wishing on Willows, currently an INSPY Award finalist. If they’re anything like this book, I’m looking forward to reading them as well.
A big thank you to publisher Waterbrook-Multnomah for providing me with an Advance Reading Copy of A Broken Kind of Beautiful as part of their Blogging for Books program for purposes of this review. My review reflects my honest opinion.