Beauty From Ashes
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Beauty From Ashes
Author: Alana Terry
Series: Orchard Grove Christian Women’s Fiction
Major Themes: Babies, NICU
Synopsis: Can Tiff and Jake’s new marriage survive having a baby in NICU and an overbearing mother-in-law?
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.
Links to buy Beauty From Ashes:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Keywords: Babies, NICU