Shades of Light: A Novel by Sharon Garlough Brown {Book Review}

Shades of Light by Sharon Garlough Brown

This book was so good. I went in expecting a more serious read about depression and mental health. And it was very serious, but it also had so much light, hope, and healing even when the situation is an ongoing one. Wren’s experience of depression and anxiety were painfully real, but the way she began to deal with it through therapy, art, and the stalwart support of her people made the story really shine. Here is part of the description on the back cover:

“Wren Crawford is a social worker who finds herself overwhelmed with the troubles of the world. Her lifelong struggles with anxiety and depression are starting to overcome her. She finds solace in art, spiritual formation, and pastoral care along with traditional therapeutic interventions. But a complicated relationship from her past also threatens to undo her progress. Fans of Sharon Brown’s bestselling Sensible Shoes Series will be delighted to discover some old friends along the way. As Wren seeks healing in this beautifully written novel, readers are invited to move beyond pat answers and shallow theology into an experience of hope and presence that illuminates even the darkness

Shades of Light provides an inside look at the often chronic nature of struggling with mental health as a christian. The author does not sugar-coat the actual pain or minimize how complicated it is. This hopeful, powerful and healing fictional story really impressed me. In a complicated world this is the type of Christian fiction we need.

The mother-daughter, aunt-niece, pastor, and complicated friend relationships are what made me inhale this story. Because, despite the difficulty of the overarching theme of the story, the nuance and perspective these relationships to our experience of Wren’s story is really enlightening. I appreciated that the secondary characters admitted their own feelings being on the outside of Wren’s struggle, but at the same time presented a very supportive and reflective environment for Wren to come back to herself in. I loved how the mother-daughter relationship evolved over the course of the novel with back-story and progress towards mending their relationship. Really worth reading. Sometimes plain hard, but really good.

Sharon Garlough Brown also wrote a really beautiful contemplative study guide to pair with this novel. I haven’t read it through completely, but I want to and can imagine it being really lovely to go through with friends or by yourself.

(Thanks to IVPress for the complimentary review copies of the book and study guide. All opinions are my own! :) Also: this post contains Amazon affiliate links.)

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