THE EDGE OF BELONGING
by AMANDA COX
Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction
Date of Publication: September 8, 2020
Number of Pages: 400
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When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee her late grandmother’s estate sale, she soon discovers that the woman left behind more than trinkets and photo frames—she provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.
Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved.
In this dual-timeline story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truth—both the search for it and the desire to keep it from others—takes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.
When I picked up The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox, I knew that I was in for an emotional ride. Any book about family secrets will do that to a person, but the idea that your true origin story has been kept from you for over 20 years… I couldn’t imagine it. I also couldn’t figure out why Ivy’s adoptive family didn’t just tell her where she came from. But I guess there wouldn’t be much of a story if they had just laid it all out!
I have read many novels that alternate between characters and/or time periods, but Cox uses the technique masterfully. The chapter lengths are perfect with nice little cliffhangers that make you groan a little because you want to keep going. But then the revelations that occur with each new chapter, flipping between the two timelines, are so riveting as the big picture is slowly but surely shaded in with deliberate strokes and increasing pressure.
I admire the framework that Cox must have laid out for this story to take shape. As connections are realized between the different characters, it feels like we aren’t getting any closer to finding out why the details of Ivy’s adoption are not out in the open. When it finally dawned on me that I would just have to read patiently to find the answer, I was able to sit back and ponder Ivy’s hangups.
For someone who is so very loved and supported, I was confused by how Ivy could fall into such an abusive relationship with Seth. I know that situation could happen to anyone, but I feel like people more often are easy prey when they have had to look for love and approval during their formative years. As I learned more about Ivy’s origin story, the concept of nature vs nurture came to mind. But also, hearing how the people in Ivy’s small town speculated about her backstory within earshot of her probably had a lot to do with it as well.
I really enjoyed this book and how it was such an active read despite the unrushed pace. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a feel good story that truly lifts the spirit. If you’re not into Christian books, don’t be put off by the labeling. Cox doesn’t hit you over the head with the Bible and the characters are very real without the usual Christian filters.
Amanda Cox is a blogger and a curriculum developer for a national nonprofit youth leadership organization, but her first love is communicating through story.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible and theology and a master’s degree in professional counseling. Her studies and her interactions with hurting families over a decade have allowed her to create multidimensional characters that connect emotionally with readers.
Amanda lives in Tennessee with her husband and their three children.
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2nd and 3rd: Copy of The Edge of Belonging
+ $10 Barnes and Noble Gift Card
September 1-11, 2020
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Sub-genre: Holiday Romance / Western
Date of Publication: September 25, 2018
Number of Pages: 354
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A small-town Texas Christmas story, where hearts are lost, love is found, and family always brings you back home.
Griffin Holloway is desperate: the Maverick Ranch has been in his family for generations, but lately, it’s a money pit. He’d sooner marry one of his horses than sell the ranch. Marriage, though, could be a solution. If he can woo a wealthy bride, he might save the ranch—just in time for Christmas. Jaxon O’Grady likes his solitude just fine, thank you very much. But when a car accident brings the unexpected to his door, he realizes just how much one person can need another. Crossroads is the perfect place for Jamie Johnson: avoiding nosy questions about why she’s single, she’s happy to keep to her lakeside home. So she’s baffled when she gets the strangest Christmas present of all, in the form of a Mr. Johnson, asleep on her sofa. Who is he, and why does everyone think he’s her husband?
In this uplifting novel, three unlikely couples discover just what Crossroads, Texas, can offer: romance, belonging, and plenty of Christmas spirit.
”Deeply poignant moments and artfully
rendered characters create a rich story that
transports readers to an idyllic place.”
– Publishers Weekly
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I didn’t read the summary or the book jacket before diving into this lovely Christmas romance, so I didn’t know that I would get three love stories for the price of one. It was sort of a Love Actually feel, three stories running parallel to each other, dipping and twisting together every once in a while. Thomas did a fantastic job of making me care about each and every character (except for the bad guy) and every storyline.
This is the first romance novel that I have read where the leading ladies don’t appear until chapter 7. (Actually, one appears in chapter 3 but she is unconscious, so it doesn’t count.) I found that a bit unorthodox, but I liked the tone it set. You really get to know the men in this book, and I loved the three Holloway brothers’ banter so much! It makes me wonder if Thomas based them off of close friends or family because their hilarity is so vivid. Actually, all of her characters are so full of life and color. Not a single detail or conversation felt cliche or disingenuous.
The reluctant and slow (although, is less than a month really slow?) love that develops between the three couples feels believable. Never was there a moment that I scoffed, ‘she wouldn’t do that’ or’ he wouldn’t say that.’ I was lapping up every detail and so sad whenever I had to take a break from reading to do something else.
My only critique is that there are some typo and type setting issues, at least with the e-book. I hope that those little blunders were caught before this lovely book went off to the printing press. Overall, I really really enjoyed this modern day western romance. I highly recommend it to sad hearts that need a smile, but also to anyone who just loves to feel the glow of new love in their soul.
A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable.
With a degree in family studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A&M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence.
Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, “When I was teaching classes full-time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher or nurse or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”
When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and checking up on their two grown sons.
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