She watched as her mother's body was removed from the ashes of her home . . .
Unbearable loss, dangerous secrets, and a life-threatening illness endangered her only hope for a future . . .
. . . But through it all, she found her faith.
When fifteen-year-old Shelly Edwards's mother is murdered by her alcoholic father, she loses her home, her family, and the only life she's ever known.
Abandoned, broken from abuse and assault, facing poverty, and gripped with fear for her life, Shelly struggles to dismantle decades of lies.
But into the deepening darkness that follows, God sends heavenly gifts, leading Shelly to a newfound faith. There she finds a peace she's never thought possible.
When Shelly eventually meets the man she will marry, she thinks her life will finally be everything she's ever dreamed of, but the lingering wounds of her past—and new, devastating medical complications—shake her faith. After all she's endured, can she rise from the ashes and trust God once more?
You'll be transformed by Shelly's riveting memoir about how love, forgiveness, courage, determination—and the guidance of angels—can overcome even the greatest anguish.
"In addition to the reviews on my website www.beautifulashesmemoir.com, here are some reviews from a few of my advanced readers.
Amy Benson – Orem, Utah
Beautiful Ashes will grab your heart and your eyeballs—good luck putting it down! It is almost unbelievable that one person could go through so much, and yet because she experienced so much, her eventual triumph over her struggles is that much more exquisite. Anyone trying to get over just about any type hardship will identify with and find comfort in her incredible story.
I was often moved to tears and also would yell out in disbelief at certain points in the narrative. I found myself cheering when good prevailed and was deeply grateful for the angels in her life (earthly and other-worldly). I am an avid reader, and this book is definitely one of my all-time favorites.
Barbara Carlesimo – Grand Rapids, Michigan
I just finished reading this awe-inspiring book, Beautiful Ashes. I could not put it down until the end. I have no words to express my thoughts right now. I’m lost in Shelly’s life story and how incredibly strong she is and how much her faith in God kept her going throughout it all. All the miracles ….
It’s amazing how strong, faith inspired, determined, conquering whatever life has thrown her way, forced to grow up at a tender young age, surrounded by strong women who never left her side, gaining an amazing career, fighting a terrible disease, having miracles lovingly sent to her from God, and through it all, finding the one true love and family she so deserved.
I know I will be reading this amazing life story many times over. All our love to you Shelly and your beautiful family. May you have a long healthy and Blessed life.
Edward Ssekirabi – Kampala, Uganda
Knowing and meeting someone doesn't mean knowing their story. I am so thrilled to have had the opportunity to read Beautiful Ashes by Shelly Edwards Jorgensen. God gave Shelly gifts that not so many have had an opportunity to possess.
Shelly's story is full of hardships, trauma, assaults, loneliness, heartbreaks and betrayals. It takes a strong mind and a firm faith to endure such overwhelming and difficult times. God indeed created us in His own image but did not make all of us warriors. Beautiful Ashes points out the heart of a true warrior. Shelly, lost everything but found what she deserved, ""that's love and family"", above all she found faith in Christ.
Emily Stallings – Springville, Utah
If you liked the books, “Glass Castles” by Jeanette Walls or “Educated” by Tara Westover, you will be drawn and compelled to read “Beautiful Ashes”. There’s so much to unpack in this narrative, please do yourself a favor and keep a box of tissues handy, and plan to call in sick for work because you won’t be going to bed or doing much of anything except reading all day and night.
Beautiful Ashes reminds us that no one is immune from pain, no one lives fairy tale lives free of sorrow and challenge, and there are no time limits on healing and happiness.
Tara Childs – Santa Maria, California
This book will pull you in and leave you feeling more resolve to find joy in the midst of trial. Shelly’s story is gripping and devastating, but even more amazing is her raw, authentic voice. She demonstrates incredible bravery in sharing her story, leaving you feeling inspired to be stronger. The story is so beautiful because of how she has learned to find beauty in the sorrow in her life. She is an incredible example of looking for God’s hand in everything. After reading this book, I feel more able to look at my trials with gratitude. I would recommend to anyone who has been through hard things and wants to look at life through a new lens.
Jenna Jorgensen – San Francisco, California
Beautiful Ashes is a story of loss, but more essentially a story of resilience, and hope. In it you will find Shelly's powerful history of overcoming the most unimaginable circumstances, rebuilding a life of fullness in the truest sense of the word.
Allison Yakonich – Las Vegas, Nevada
This book will take your breath away…it certainly stole mine. This is one of those unforgettable stories, but it is more than just that. While painful at times to read what the author had endure, her strength and resilience were so inspiring. It puts life into perspective and gives hope to those overcoming any trial or difficulty. It also provides an eye-opening account into domestic abuse which helps bring this issue into the forefront where we can continue to learn more about how it affects so many lives and how we can help others suffering. This was by no means an easy read; however, it is critical we understand better the world of domestic violence and how it impacts families. And of course, how all struggles can be overcome through faith and hope.
Charisse Simonian – Los Angeles, California
“Beautiful Ashes” is a heartbreaking memoir that reminds us there can be triumph over tragedy. How someone can overcome such trauma and find happiness in life is a testament to the importance of faith, family and friendships. This book will first pain you to pieces, and then will inspire you to harness the gift that is grief.
Debbie Hafen – Southfield, Michigan
Beautiful Ashes is riveting, horrific, and hopeful. Shelly has taken the awful experiences she has had throughout her life and shown how she has used them to become better and not bitter - which would have been much easier. This heart-rending book will keep you turning the pages to see what happens next and will have you pulling for Shelly to make it through. It is a story of resilience and ultimately triumph, and, oh, what a ride! Kudos to Shelly for sharing her story to give hope to others who suffer injustices and long for peace.
Sarah Robinson – Wilmslow, England
Truly moving story! So proud of Shelly for coping so well along a very difficult journey and coming out the other side triumphant. Very inspiring to others in similar situations!
Julie Nicholls – Dearborn, Michigan
I was completely invested in Shelly's story from the first chapter of the book. She tells her story in such a way that I had a difficult time putting it down once I started. Every so often I would find myself closing the book but then immediately returning to it only a few minutes later. The story never felt like it dragged and had me full of anticipation what crazy thing would happen next.
Beautiful Ashes is a story of overcoming time and time again. It was amazing to see how much Shelly went through and still chose faith and happiness when it would have been easy to give into the darkness that surrounded her.
There are many lessons that can be learned from Shelly's story, and I will refer back to her mindset time and time again in my future. I can't wait for the book to be published and I can share it with my friends and family.
Linda Miller – Rochester Hills, Michigan
An amazing story of strength, courage and faith! I felt like Shelly was talking to me. So many emotions - sad, hurt, lonely and tears while reading. Beautiful Ashes will make you evaluate your relationships and think of those close to you. I was inspired by Shelly’s ability to move forward in life with God and her mom guiding her. I will be reading Beautiful Ashes again to get inspired, to lean on my faith and to advocate for those in tough situations. I am truly Blessed to know Shelly and witness her strength and miracles.
Mary Jane Wetmore – Fredericksburg, Virginia
I read this amazing book last weekend, and out of 10 stars, it is a 20! So many things of what the author wrote resonated with many of my own personal traumas and tragedies in my life, and I immediately felt a kinship with this wonderful woman. Her resilience and courage are awe inspiring and inspirational. Please make sure you read this book when it becomes available. You will love it! Warning: you WILL miss out on some sleep because you won't be able to put it down, so be well rested when you begin! Thank you, Shelly, for your courage and your kindness to share with others the deepest recesses of your heart. God Bless you always.
Average rating from 16 members
This is such an incredible story, a memoir about daunting loss and trials in life. A struggle to hold onto hope and faith after Shelly lost her mother in a house fire at age 15. But that wasn’t the end of her challenges by far. Her story is inspiring and can give us all hope. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
This book is an amazing memoir for what Shelley went through as a child and as she grew up. Shelly's biggest obstacle happened when she was 15 and her mother was killed in a house fire. However, this was only the beginning of her struggles. Shelly faces a lot over her life and this book and we learn how she was able to overcome a lot. Anyone dealing with any kind of struggle in their life can relate to how hard it can be to overcome and this story shows us that you can overcome anything.
I received an ARC of, Beautiful Ashes, by Shelly Edwards Jorgenson. Shelly had a difficult childhood with an abusive father, but did he really kill her mother? This was a heavy book emotionally. Her father is not a nice man very manipulative and self centered.
A very emotive and excellently written autobiographical story. Wow, what an incredible woman this author is! Not only has her life been tragic in many ways, but she writes so inspirationally about how she has learnt to overcome those tragedies. A wonderful read.
Gosh. My thoughts on this memoir, where to start. It was devastating, eloquent, and desperately sad. What an exceptional story and an incomprehensible thing to endure. I knew from the first page that I would be unable to put this book down and I stayed up late into the night reading, as the author navigated the turmoil and dysfunction leading up to an unspeakable event, and the heartache and chaos that was left behind as she tried to pick up the pieces. It was haunting, thought-provoking, yet often heartwarming as it chronicled the author’s spiritual journey, wrestling with a belief in God in the face of trauma and violence. I felt I gained so much from this book. Beautiful ashes, as it was so aptly titled, couldn’t have captured the essence any better. 5 stars. Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this incredible book.
This book was very compelling and emotional. It was so sad reading about all of the trauma that Shelley went through. It is inspiring to read how she overcame so many trials in her life and overcame them through her faith. Thank you to Netgalley & BooksGoSocial for the ARC of this book in exchange for the honest review.
This book was sent to me by Netgalley electronically for review. It is an amazing story. How one woman can survive all she did is just that...amazing...when reading the book, sometimes I thought I was reading a novel as the writer is that gifted. However, one person could not certainly suffer so many wrong doings. She did. She wrote about them. Don’t miss this book. It is thought provoking and poignant while still horrendous also. I don’t necessary agree with ewigious aspect of the book, but this is nonfiction, so it is not my place to agree or disagree. It happened. She told her grief journey.
The last few years I’ve really gotten into memoirs and it’s really special when you find one that hits you right in your feelings. There is a lot of trauma here and I know that will be off putting to people who only want happy things to read but if you want deep and gritty true tribulations, this is it! I think people will talk about this story. It really touches you, Shelley’s story will make you feel something.
"Beautiful Ashes" follows in the same vein as your Glass Castles and your Educateds -- it is a narrative memoir about how the trauma in one's childhood shapes our identity, and how one recovers from it. Shelly's childhood was fraught with domestic abuse; despite living a comfortable life in terms of finances, Shelly's father was an alcoholic who abused her mom physically and verbally. When their house burns down one night and Shelly's mother's body is discovered, her father is immediately suspected. As the story unravels, Shelly must grapple with her guilt for not admitting to her father's abuse and threats towards her mother; her fear of being orphaned by her mother to her murder and her father to his potential imprisonment; and her terror of continuing to live with her abusive father. As the reader watches her grow through her young adult life into college and finally into a woman with an established career and future, it seems like something is always waiting around the corner for her -- sickness, death, sexual assault, financial stress, among too many other things. I generally read nonfiction quite slowly in small doses; however, the focus on the larger themes and not simply the crime central to the story helped me remain engaged. I ended up reading this book in three sessions, including the last 40% in one sitting! The prose throughout is engaging, but in the early chapters there were moments I felt the intentionality of capturing the reader's attention and interest with descriptive details. I was almost ready to have to give up on it after reading the first chapter, but I'm glad I kept going. The prose evened out as the book continued, with a healthy mix of reflective, figurative sections combined with the cold hard facts. One of the main beats in this book is Shelly's religion. As an obedient Catholic in her teen years, attending church mainly because of her mother, Shelly turns to Mormonism after discussing the concept of prayer with her friend, Sabrina. I really enjoyed this section, and most of Shelly's early descriptions of finding her identity through her religion. I enjoyed seeing how religion helped her cope and overcome some of her trauma. But towards the end the religious messages were too overt for me that it felt almost preachy (which feels trite saying, but that's how I felt as a non-religious reader). There are similar books that tackle the religious piece much more effectively without making me feel like I'm trying to be persuaded into feeling the same way about God or religion. While I don't believe that was the intention of the author, it felt like a byproduct of the amount of air time that gets towards the last half of the book. If you enjoy true crime, but also need some character development, this is the book for you. The amount of trauma Shelly faces is heavy to read at times, so make sure you're prepared for that kind of content. But I highly recommend reading this one!
I found this to be a powerful book as it highlighted the importance of resilience. It was hard to fathom that the author could have experienced so much tragedy and difficulty in her life and yet still remain positive. She has my admiration and I appreciate the opportunity to have an insight into her life. Thank you for the opportunity to read 'Beautiful Ashes'.
Beautiful Ashes by Shelly Edwards Jorgensen is an inspiring true story of how faith was able to bring one from constant heartache to happiness. Five stars.
wow, this was a heartbreaking and beautiful read! I am nervous about writing this review because I feel like my words absolutely cannot do it justice, especially when it's a memoir. How can you criticize someone's personal story?! When I finished this book, I thought "wow, Shelly really could not catch a break!" From losing her mother at 15 when her alcoholic and abusive father was the one who murdered her to the many health complications she faced later in life, I see that Shelly is so strong. I would describe her to have superhuman strength and resilience despite whatever crap life throws at her. It blows my mind how strong her faith in the Lord is and I am glad she eventually was able to find peace with everything and continue with her life as a friend, as a wife, as a step-mom and so much more. I am so glad I was able to find this book here on Netgalley. Looking forward to pub day so that I can get my own physical copy of this beautiful book!