Shades of Light

Sharon Garlough Brown (InterVarsity Press)

Insightful, penetrating, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful, Shades of Light takes the reader into the world of mental illness through the eyes of Wren, a young woman hospitalized for clinical depression and panic attacks, and her mother, Jamie, who worries and loves from a distance. As Wren begins to heal through studying the life and works of the artist Vincent Van Gogh, she finds a companion in sorrow. The sufferings of Christ as he journeys to the cross are also an important part of her healing. Shades of Light skillfully tackles the dark topics of depression and suicide as well as the often misguided way Christians treat mental illness.

As Bright As Heaven

Susan Meissner (Berkley Books)

As Bright As Heaven, Susan Meissner’s story of one family’s excruciating journey during and after the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, is heart-wrenching, profound, at times gruesome, and ultimately bright. Told from the first-person viewpoints of the mother and her three daughters, the novel gives a vivid and terrifying description of a previously unknown-to-me part of our country’s history. Meissner’s prose at times took my breath away and left me with much to ponder about the thin line between life and death and how the human spirit can survive the most devastating heartbreak.

Life After

Katie Ganshert (WaterBrook)

Life After (winner of a 2018 Christy award) is a bold novel dealing with tragedy, loss, and survival with a twist on the question of why? Autumn Manning, the sole survivor of a terrorist attack, wanders through “life after,” looking for the answer to why she alone survived. Tormented by grief and guilt, Autumn finds an unlikely connection with 12-year-old Reese Elliot, whose mother was killed in the attack. Beautifully crafted, the novel never stoops to platitudes but rather explores what healing looks like in the aftermath of unspeakable horror.

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