Shades of Light

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

This is a wonderful book very heartfelt writting . Touched on many emotions in this story. It shows how the struggle of depression and anxiety can cripple a person but even though the character has to learn to deal with the crushing weight of life and old relationships with determination and friends there is hope. a touching book that sucked me into the characters life and made me cry and laugh and cheer her on. this is the first book by this author I have read and I am so glad that I did.
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Mental illness is a subject near and dear to my heart, and for this reason I’m especially drawn to the life of Vincent Van Gogh. So, when I read the blurb for Shades of Light and saw that he was mentioned I was pulled in immediately. The cover art helped too; I really, really love beautiful covers, and this one is gorgeous. 

The character of Wren and the issues with which she struggles are relatable to anyone who has suffered from depression, anxiety or other mental health issues. The daily struggle just to keep living—the guilt, fear, loneliness and helplessness.... The author approaches this very difficult and often misunderstood subject with grace and does a great job of explaining things in a way that should help those who have never experienced depression understand, at least a little better, those who have. Weaving anecdotes from the life of Van Gogh throughout the story was brilliant. Also, there are so many great quotes’s hard to choose a favorite; I’ll definitely be sharing them on social media. This book is beautiful but bittersweet, sad but hopeful. I recommend it. 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Sharon Garlough Brown's writing is profoundly deep and rich, and her newest book, Shades of Light, delves into the delicate topic of mental illness with compassion and care. In this book, we return to Kingsbury, Michigan, the setting for her Sensible Shoes series. However, we meet a new friend named Wren, and we join her in her struggle against debilitating depression, anxiety, and crippling panic attacks. Given the dark sadness of this topic, Sharon Garlough Brown masterfully leads her readers to view those so afflicted with compassion, kindness, and understanding. Cameo appearances of Sensible Shoes characters link this book to her previous writing, and add greater depth to those characters as we see how they are doing nine years later. Shades of Light is more than a simple novel. It gives us yet again an opportunity to continue learning from our literary spiritual director.
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Shades of Light by Sharon Garlough Brown is a deeply emotional book. If you or someone you love deals with mental illness, you might be interested in this book. I think it is an important read and I applaud the publisher for taking it on. I have heard nothing but great things about this author’s other books so I was excited to pick this one up. I was not disappointed! The Scriptures and quotes used in this book really resonated with me. I have long held the belief of God’s nature that the author weaves into this book (no spoilers— you have to read it!). I highly recommend it. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher with no obligations. These opinions are entirely my own.
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If I’m honest I found this novel difficult to read. Not that it isn’t beautifully written, it is, but it takes you into the mind of someone struggling with mental illness and that is simply not an easy place to be.

I appreciated the exploration of Vincent van Gogh’s life alongside of Wren’s struggles. I also appreciated the exploration of the cross of Christ and what it means that we are all companions in suffering. There were some beautiful “shades of light” in this novel.

If you are looking for a book that will help you understand mental illness then I don’t think this is it. This is a book of companionship with mental illness more than an explanation of it. There is a mystery to the mind that can sometimes only be observed and can not be explained. The author asked hard questions around difficult topics, including the complete inadequacy of formulaic answers and the lack of clarity in where mental illness and sin align or diverge. I appreciated that Brown tackled many of the insufficient ways that the church deals with this topic.

This is a story of compassion and struggle: a story of Jesus who keeps company with us in all that is hard.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Shades of Light draws you in with its beautiful cover and intriguing description. Mental health has been a topic that has become a popular discussion in the last couple of years. It's become less shameful to talk about, yet there is still no easy way of breaking the chains it has on people's lives. In a world with social media, terror, and unrest, it's no wonder people are starting to understand how important mental health is, but it's also shocking how many people are becoming affected by it!

I was drawn to Shades of Light after seeing the cover. I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I did with this book. It drew me in with its array of color and the bird in the center. When I found out this was a Christian book, I knew I wanted to read it.

The book is based on the life of a woman named Wren. As a social worker, she's seen a lot of pain, but what no one can see is that Wren is battling a war of her own. Wren is not okay, but she wants to be; so after checking into the hospital, she finally comes to grasp that there needs to be change in her life. Slowly working on her health, Wren finds a place where supportive people surround her; using her love for art, Vincent Van Gogh, and her newfound comfort in the picture of Jesus on the cross, Wren's journey to restoration is real and challenging. However, it only takes one person to undo all the work she's done, and when he resurfaces, she faces the biggest test of all.

It's in our human nature to want to help those who are down, but what happens when those people aren't receptive? We can talk and pray all we want, but that won't always help a person who has a mental illness. Some Christians say that it is due to a lack of faith that they are stuck in a state of anxiety and depression; however, it's so much more than that. Shades of Light explores the lives of those dealing with mental health issues and those who are trying to help. It takes a gentle approach and leans towards showing God's love and faithfulness throughout the struggles. 

The format of a book makes a world of difference! I read an early edition of this book (provided by NetGalley) and therefore struggled with the paragraph structure and indentations. I'd never thought about the importance of a page's setup until I read this book. It was hard to follow and connect with sometimes because I was continually trying to navigate whose perspective I was reading and who was speaking. However, putting all that aside, I did enjoy this book. Sharon Garlough Brown put a lot of research and planning in this book, and it showed. I loved how she incorporated Vincent Van Gogh's artwork and his letters to his friend Theo in with the story. I learned a lot of new things while reading this book. I'm confident that there are people who need to read this book, so I encourage you, whether you're suffering from mental health or not, to pick up this book and give it a go!
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This book offers the reader an insider’s, intimate, guided journey through the ups and downs of mental illness. Your chief tour guide on this journey is Wren, a young social worker who had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression during her high school years. Wren is a person of faith and this is her story.

As a young girl, Wren experienced change, sadness and worry. Her beloved Gran encouraged Wren to paint her feelings. Wren loved colors and that drew me to her character. She also loved beauty and was a keen observer of it.

As Wren participated in improving her mental health, she searched her memories for an underlying cause or reason for her ongoing battles with depression and anxiety. She repeatedly came up empty, and so she trudged on...with counseling, medications and learned coping mechanisms. Would she ever be healthy?

I loved reading about the recurring theme of having and needing a companion in sorrow, and then also being someone’s companion in sorrow. I loved the relationship between Kit and Wren...companions in sorrow. Each woman traveled their own separate paths and also traveled one together. I loved how expressions of creativity became declarations of worship and also impacted emotional and spiritual health.

You will explore and experience so very much while reading this beautifully written book. Heartache and hope. Brokenness and healing. Fear and courage. The illusion of control and the release of surrender. And, I dare say, that you just might acquire a greater appreciation for artists. I loved and am intrigued about all the references to Vincent Van Gogh and I fully intend to learn more about him and his story.

I love how God speaks to me through books that I enjoy so very much. He did it again! As I came to the end of this book, He reminded me once again of my favorite Bible verse.
Psalm 30:5 Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from InterVarsity Press through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
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Shades of Light
A Novel

by Sharon Garlough Brown

InterVarsity Press

IVP Books

Christian , Religion & Spirituality

Pub Date 20 Aug 2019

I am reviewing a copy of Shades of Light through InterVarsity Press and Netgalley:

I couldn’t turn of the dark thoughts no matter how hard I prayed. I was desperate!

I spent the whole weekend in bed crying. The crying was constant, I couldn’t stop it.

I’ve dealt with bouts of depression before. A kind of dark cloud I have learned to live with. This time it was different. It felt like I was going under, I felt that I would never feel hopeful again. It only made my anxiety worse.

Wren Crawford a social worker, finds herself overwhelmed with the troubles of the world. Her lifelong struggles with anxiety and depression are starting to take over her life. She seeks 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.

I give Shades of Light five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!
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I devoured Shades of Light in a day - this is the first well-written Christian novel on mental health that I've read and I hope the author continues to write more books just like this. It's needed in the church!
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This was a BEAUTIFUL novel that depicted the real struggle of those who have mental illness and the people who love them. The mix of emotions, faith, and wrestling with how the two intertwine was depicted here through the life of main character Wren, her troubled friend Casey and her family. I appreciated the way this book honestly wrestled with issues and didn't conclude by tying them up nearly. It was a book I resonated with deeply and would highly recommend.
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For anyone who really doesn’t know anything about mental illness, this is a good book to read. The author has made the characters very relatable. I enjoyed learning more about Van Gogh and his art. I found myself looking up his artwork so I could see what the author was referring to. I would recommend this book, especially to anyone who has a friend or relative struggling with depression.
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I enjoyed this book on anxiety, depression, and mental illness.
I don't know that I have ever read a book written so heart-retching
on the subject. I am interested in reading more of her books. Suffering
from depression all of my life, this was an eye-opener that made me 
see I'm not alone. This book will help anyone have an understanding
of what we are going through. I highly recommend it.
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Sharon Garlough Brown deals with the difficult subject of depression with sensitivity and without cliché.  Wren, the protagonist, is so real she leaps off the page and into your heart.  I found this book an eye-opener for understanding the battles people face with anxiety, depression and mental illness.  The reality of the writing made the book absorbing, but quite tough going at times, as we follow Wren through her struggles. The book also explores the effect Wren’s life has on her mother and family is a gentle and thoughtful way.  Her writings about Van Gogh were a fascinating side-line.  Another great book from the author of the Sensible Shoes series.
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Thank you for allowing me to read this copy. I needed this book at this time in my life. I really connected with Wren. I found so much comfort in the scriptures included in this book. It was a reminder to me to open my Bible more and pray more. I have battled depression and mite recently anxiety. I’ve recently been studying the Bible and praying more. Most of the time alone. This book has shown me that I need family, friends, and believers to help in my journey. I loved the Vincent Van Gogh art references in this story. I love how Wren compared her journey with Vincent’s journey. I’m glad that Wren found the strength to over come her battles even in the midst of losing a friend. Thank you, again. I’m ready to read more of your books. Looking forward to the sequel from this book.
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This is a book about mental illness. The author deals with how hard life is for the person who has it and the pain it causes the family and friends. This was a hard book for me to read but it was worth it. Thank you IVP Books via NetGalley for the ARC copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.
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This book deals well with the reality of mental illness. The author deals with how hard it is for the person with the illness,  their family and friends. She also helps those who want to help, to understand what is helpful and what isn't. 
I received this book free from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.
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Having battled depression and anxiety for most of her life, Wren hits a point where she can't continue to cope on her own.  Taking a leave of absence from her emotionally draining job as a social worker, she seeks help, from professionals, from loving extended family, and from those within her faith.  Making progress, she reaches out to help a struggling friend from her past, but can she help him recover without jeopardizing her own fragile healing?

I don't know that I've ever seen a book this gut-wrenchingly open and vulnerable in regards to mental illness, depression, and anxiety.  Sometimes the intensity and the darkness the characters were experiencing was too much, and I needed to step away to catch my own breath.  However, I've never seen a book take on the heaviness of depression and call out and dash all of the typical "Christian" responses of "you just need more faith," or the belief that Christians shouldn't experience depression.  Those aren't Christian answers, they're lazy answers.

There were themes in this book that I am not personally well-acquainted with, such as the stations of the Cross, and while it didn't detract from my reading experience, I think it would make the book an even richer read for those who are familiar with a more mystical approach to Christianity, with some possibly Catholic rituals added in.  (I apologize if I have mis-categorized the rituals in the book)

I have not read any of this author's previous works, and this book stands alone just fine.  However, I did read somewhere that there are some character crossovers, which I think would enhance the background support of this story if the reader were familiar with them.

I give this book 4 stars.  I don't quite know what else I could wish for from this book, and maybe it's the dark subject matter that leaves me feeling too heavy to say I loved it.  That would be through no fault of the author's writing.  But I know that I could not personally pick up this book back up to read again.  At least not anytime soon.

I received a digital copy of this book, via NetGalley, from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.
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I have personally struggled with anxiety and depression for over a decade, and for the past two decades I’ve watched my uncle fight his own demons. I first learned about his mental illness when I was 12, and by then he’d already spent years in and out of hospitals, been on and off of medications, and had tried various experimental treatments, He has been through the full gamut and struggles still.

Shades of Light introduces us to Wren Crawford—a young social worker who has devoted herself to helping those in society who can’t help themselves. But she has a personal struggle of her own—she suffers from severe anxiety and depression. She connects deeply with the work and writings of Vincent van Gogh—identifying with his feelings of compassion for humanity and active melancholy. Her recovery, however, is threatened when an old friend with his own struggles comes back into her life, needing more helps than she can give.

Brown approaches mental illness with a gentleness and sensitivity that is rare, especially in Christian circles where judgment unfortunately is all too common. It’s obvious she did extensive research in the way she was able to capture the extreme feelings of despair and loneliness.

She also depicted the way mental illness affects the family members with honesty and empathy—the caretakers suffer, too. The whole family is affected, and the anger, the sadness, the helplessness is real.

Shades of Light is a difficult book for me to review. The writing was not as polished as I usually prefer; the dialogue, especially, felt a bit choppy and stilted at times—and yet. And yet—this is a book that I think deserves to be read. It’s the first book I’ve read from a Christian perspective that goes beyond ineffectual platitudes and dangerous, shallow theology and presents an honest look at life with mental illness in light of faith and God’s grace and love.
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Another great read from Sharon Garlough Brown! Addressing the issue of mental illness, this book brings attention to the something that is grossly misunderstood by the Christian culture. The author does a. wonderful job showing the agony that those with anxiety and depression fight and also the heart wrenching path that their care givers experience along the way. The protagonist finds comfort in Jesus and paintings - especially those of Vincent Van Gogh. It was so interesting, I had too look up the different paintings that were mentioned throughout the book. The author did a great job with reasearch into the issue at hand and in the artist. It was nice to revisit some of the characters from "The Sensible Shoes" series- about 10 years later. This story lends itself to a potential sequel. I hope Sharon plans to  write more about Wren and her journey. 

Thanks to Net Galley for the advanced copy!
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