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Culture Books

Room in the family


Room in the family

Four novels from Christian publishers

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox: Cox’s debut novel celebrates the worth of every human life and showcases the beauty of a family built not by blood relation but by choice. A homeless man, Harvey, finds an abandoned newborn on the side of the highway. Hoping to spare her a future lost in the foster care system, he decides to raise the baby girl by himself in the woods. A local pastor and his elderly widowed neighbor disrupt Harvey’s plans as they form an unbreakable bond with Harvey and “his” baby. Twenty-four years later, that baby, now a grown woman, returns to her childhood home to unravel the mystery surrounding her beginnings. A lovely, multilayered story about broken people finding healing in God’s timing.

What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K. Sproles: In 1877, a deadly fever rages through the remote mountains of Tennessee. When 17-year-old Worie Dressar’s mother dies, she’s shocked to discover many young orphans who had been depending on “Momma” for food and other necessities. Narrated in Worie’s Appalachian dialect, the book’s style can be distracting, but it lends authenticity to the story. Worie is brash, uncouth, and quick-tempered but also determined to help the “youngins” left without parents. While life on the mountain is hard, Worie tells herself, “Buck up and shovel them feelins over your shoulder.” Memories of her mother’s faith in the Lord and friendship with a local pastor soften Worie’s anger at God for her circumstances, and in time she learns about trust and ­forgiveness.

Promised Land by Robert Whitlow: Promised Land is the sequel to Whitlow’s last novel, Chosen People. Hana Abboud and Daud Hasan, now married, expect their first child. Hana, a Christian Arab whose deep faith often wakes her for nightly chats with God, agrees to be a panelist at a Middle Eastern interfaith summit. Meanwhile, Daud works covertly for the CIA to extract from Egypt a Ukrainian scientist under U.S. protection. Jihadists track Daud to Atlanta with intentions to bomb the conference where Hana is set to speak. Whitlow balances high-stakes action with ordinary issues, such as learning to communicate as newlyweds and where best to settle a growing family—Atlanta or Jerusalem. Much of the story takes place in Israel, where Whitlow provides a glimpse into cultural and religious differences among Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Fink­beiner: Betty Sweet is a 1960s, happy-go-lucky, Michigan housewife until her husband’s untimely death. Still grieving her loss, she suddenly becomes the sole caregiver to Hugo, the 5-year-old, biracial nephew she never knew she had. While Hugo’s mother languishes in a state mental hospital, Aunt Betty comforts the boy by making up whimsical stories, and the time they spend together begins to heal the broken places in their hearts. This novel includes hard subjects—death, mental illness, racial tension—but is never bleak. Finkbeiner highlights the beauty found in ordinary days spent with loved ones despite the hardships that happen along the way.