A Broken Kind of Beautiful – Katie Ganshert – WaterBrook – Published 15 April 2014
Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth—appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows—so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line—an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.
If only her tenuous future didn’t rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the façade she works so hard to maintain. He, along with a cast of other characters, challenges everything Ivy has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her—a woman stained and broken by the world—yet wants her still?
I put this book on my to-read list some time ago but never had the occasion to pick it up. Now, after reading the magnificence that is Life After, I knew I needed to get my hands on all of Katie Ganshert’s books. For some reason, I thought A Broken Kind of Beautiful wouldn’t be as good as Life After. Maybe something to do with a review that said Life After was her best book yet. I would disagree. I don’t think A Broken Kind of Beautiful is better than Life After, just more of the same extremely powerful, amazingly wonderful writing. There is something that is awesome about Katie’s writing that makes these books an absolute pleasure to read.
Ivy has never known love. Not from the father who ignored her existence. Not from the mother who was trapped by alcohol and drugs. Certainly not from her uncle who only values Ivy for the money she can make him. And not from the fashion industry that used and idolised her beauty but which is all too quick to overlook her for the newer and younger models. Her last shot as saving her career sees her forced back to the Southern town of Greenbrier to participate in her stepmother’s bridal shop promotions. Returning to the town forces Ivy to relive all her past and present hurts, but it might also force her to see the people who care for her and who see beyond the broken and hurting spirit and beautiful face.
This book was absolutely gorgeous. So heartfelt and touching. I loved every minute of it. Ivy is so hurting. She lashes out at everyone around her. I so enjoyed her journey of discovering love and forgiveness and grace, of finding a place to belong. My only complaint? I didn’t want the book to end. I didn’t want to leave these wonderful characters. And there are so many wonderful character and stories tied into this book. Right alongside Ivy is Davis. He too has been seriously hurt by the fashion world or at least his choices and the consequences they had on his loved ones. He left that world two years ago and never looked back. Until, that is, Ivy is brought into his life and his Aunt asks him to photograph the bridal shoot. He catches glimpses of Ivy’s pain, knows there is a lot more going on underneath her cold and calculating exterior, and can’t help falling for her, even as he knows he must give her space, show her that she can be loved for more than her physical beauty.
And then there is Marilyn. Ivy’s stepmother always longed for a child but was only ever given Ivy, a girl who didn’t know how to be loved and certainly didn’t know how to love in return. Marilyn has only ever longed to wrap her arms around Ivy. Her patience and love was a beautiful thing to witness. And Sara, Davis’s sister, who struggles with her own pain but is a bright, loving and beautiful girl, gets her own love story in this book. There are so many other wonderful characters who bring joy to this book, so many stories and faces that bring the town to life.
I think one of my favourite things about this story was the whole discussion of faith and God’s love. It is woven throughout the story, as the characters struggle with accepting God’s forgiveness and forgiving themselves. The book also includes one of the most powerful sermons I’ve ever encountered, a few short sentences spoken in a gentle conversation by a caring friend. And that is true of this whole book. Its message is one of love and caring and friendship and forgiveness, family and friends and community. It is, quite simply, wonderful.
If my endless exaltations are not enough to convince you of how magnificent this book is, then all I ask is that you give it a try and see for yourself. For who can resist heart-pounding romance (that kiss!!!), set against a story of redemption, and characters who ache to finally find a place to belong.
Category: Christian fiction.
Themes: Fashion, family, models, forgiveness, faith, photography, friendship, bridal wear, acceptance, belonging, romance.
Advisory: References to sexual relationships, adultery and drug use.
Published: 15 April 2014 by WaterBrook
Format: Paperback, ebook. 308 pages.