Saturday, March 20, 2021

Facing the Dawn

Facing the Dawn

 Title: Facing the Dawn

Author: Cynthia Ruchti

Publisher: Revell

Genre: Christian Fiction/Contemporary Fiction


While her humanitarian husband Liam has been digging wells in Africa, Mara Jacobs has been struggling. She knows she's supposed to feel a warm glow that her husband is nine time zones away, caring for widows and orphans. But the reality is that she is exhausted, working a demanding yet unrewarding job, trying to manage their three detention-prone kids, failing at her to-repair list, and fading like a garment left too long in the sun.

Then Liam's three-year absence turns into something more, changing everything and plunging her into a sunless grief. As Mara struggles to find her footing, she discovers that even when hope is tenuous, faith is fragile, and the future is unknown, we can be sure we are not forgotten . . . or unloved.

My thoughts

Facing the Dawn by Cynthia Ruchti is the first book I have read by this author but it will not be my last. Her books have received recognition from RT Reviewers’ Choice Book of the Year, PW Starred Reviews, Selah Awards, and Novel of the Year, The Carol Award, two Christy finalists, and more.

While Facing the Dawn is a fiction novel, it does not read like one. It is so much more than a fictional novel, it is rich and profound. I was immediately drawn into the story from the opening scene. I had heard quite a bit about the book before I read it, mostly to have the tissues ready. I would advise that as well, although I did not cry, but so many things resonated in this book for me. 

Mara means bitter but it also means something else. At the beginning of the novel, Mara is essentially a single mom who is bitter with the way her life is going, relying heavily on sarcasm to keep herself afloat. Her husband, Liam, is digging wells in Uganda and has been gone for three years. When unimaginable tragedy strikes Mara's world is flipped upside down, with so many things coming to a head as once, Mara doesn't know if she is coming or going, and neither does the reader.

Mara is blessed with two great friendships in this book. An old friend, Ashley, and a new friend Sol. Ashley is dealing with some struggles and grief and Sol is a homeless enigma. They both help Mara in different ways and set about to teach her that Mara is more than bitter. I loved the friendship between these three, it is real and beautiful.

Facing the Dawn is a journey from dark to light, from death to resurrection, from fear to love, from scared to sacred. This story is told with attention to detail, an excellent balance of dialogue and narration. Faith is intrinsically woven throughout the story, not preachy, just flowing naturally. The character development is excellent and the characters are relatable. While I have not experienced the issues that Mara did, I found so many deep, thought-provoking comments in this story. The first thought that resonated with me was in the narration about Mara. It said, "But once someone reaches the point marked 'Overwhelmed,' even basic upkeep bows to the kids' needs, and every loose hinge or carpet stain threatens to unhinge a person like Mara, the responsible one. The one who spent a lifetime convincing people she could manage fine." That is something that most of us do. I was also struck with "Mara's someday list" and allowing "herself to dream." While this book is not intended to give lessons, it gave me one, and if you read it, it might teach you something as well. When the pandemic hit we all had to cancel our plans, more than a year later, and reading this book, I realized that I am not allowing myself to dream. I, like Mara, have been stuck in "overwhelmed" and not dreaming or planning. That is not where we are intended to stay. We need to process and move forward, which is eventually what Mara does. 

I cannot stress enough how well-written Facing the Dawn is. While it is about grief and tragedy, there is sarcasm and humor sprinkled in as well, helping to balance the story. The writing is conversational and engaging. The storyline is phenomenal. It was absolutely life-changing and thought-provoking. I would highly recommend this story for anyone who likes contemporary stories, especially ones that lean toward inspirational.  

Thank you to Revell for the opportunity to read this amazing book. I was not required to give a positive review but I am more than happy to do so. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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