Finding identity in Christ
Recent novels from Christian publishers
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All Through the Night by Tara Johnson: At the start of the Civil War, Cadence Piper wants to prove her worth to her father by serving as a nurse. But the head of nursing rejects her because she’s too young and pretty. Instead Cadence brings comfort to the Union soldiers by singing to them. Joshua Ivy, head surgeon at Judiciary Square Hospital, resents the “Songbird of the North,” thinking she’s vain. But as he gets to know her, he recognizes her deep insecurities and encourages her to see herself as God does: a worthy daughter, loved by Christ. Cadence stumbles upon Joshua’s secret anti-slavery activity, and they team up to right the wrongs around them. Several cameos of famous people—Dorothea Dix, Fanny Crosby, John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln—add authenticity to this historical romance.
Facing the Dawn by Cynthia Ruchti: Mara Jacobs might as well be a single parent. She juggles her delinquent children, a household needing endless repairs, and an unfulfilling job, while trying not to resent her husband who’s away on a three-year assignment building wells in Africa. When tragedy strikes, her spirits sink even lower. She resists help and comfort from others, wanting to be strong on her own. Bits of Mara’s self-deprecating humor relieve the heavy drama. In one scene, as she sits between two good friends, Mara imagines herself looking like “a slice of expired lunch meat between two pieces of fancy herbed bread.” In the end, those good friends teach Mara that accepting help from others is OK and that God’s peace can conquer regrets.
Burden of Proof by Davis Bunn: Ethan Barrett has many regrets in life: selfish decisions, a failed marriage, and his brother’s unsolved murder many years earlier. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, he gets a chance to return to his past to save his brother and right other wrongs. Readers who have difficulty accepting a time travel premise may want to skip this science-fiction-laden novel, but it does contain good qualities: a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and a bittersweet love story. Spiritual substance is lacking. Once, a friend offers Ethan vague advice that “the answer, brother, is to aim for the eternal. Long as you do that, you’re good to go.” But as Ethan faces death, his efforts to affect the eternal by correcting his mistakes through works—not faith—make the story feel hollow.
Roots of Wood and Stone by Amanda Wen: While cleaning out his grandmother’s house with the intention to sell the property, financial planner Garrett Anderson finds an old satchel and donates it to the local historical museum. Inside the satchel, museum curator Sloane Kelley discovers a diary belonging to a woman born in the 1860s. As she researches the woman’s life, Sloane uncovers shocking details about the Kansas farmhouse and its earliest inhabitants. The story alternates between past and present as Wen weaves the two eras together to a surprising and satisfying conclusion. Perfectly paced, the dual storylines are equally compelling and contain reminders of God’s faithfulness: Our plans are not always His plans, but we can trust Him and rest in His perfect peace.
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