Friday 7 December 2018

Ornamental Graces - Carolyn Astfalk

Ornamental Graces
Carolyn Astfalk
Full Quiver Publishing

Multa Verba Publishing
ISBN 9780997971804

This was the second novel by Carolyn Astfalk that I have read this year, I have also read her short story in the collection, Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories. At the time of writing this review this book is ranked in the following categories:

Religious & Inspirational

Now as a middle-aged guy I do not normally read romances. Some of the other YA Books I have read have a romance element, but usually written around adventure or mystery. As far as I can recall of the thousands of book I have read this is the first I would classify as romance. And yet, even with that being stated, I could hardly put this book down. This story is good clean Catholic, Christian fiction. It is the story about relationships, about family, about mistakes. And about learning to forgive ourselves. As a guy who did not always live his faith well this story was an incredibly powerful and moving read. And to be honest I wish there had been Young Adult books like this when I was much younger, maybe reading a story like this would have helped me avoid some of the mistakes, some of the sins in my own past. 

There are several strengths to this novel. The first are the characters. Astfalk does such an amazing job creating realistic characters. They are fully fleshed out. Dan Malone is a man trying to put his life back together. He hates who he was, and the things he has done. He is working hard, rebuilding his business and his name. By a chance encounter he meets Emily Kowalski, at his Christmas tree lot. They both discover eventually that they have feelings for each other, but because of their own personal struggles they keep messing it up. Dan has become friends with Emily’s brother, and is called uncle by his kids. Dan does not feel worth of Emily because of his past, a past that keeps reeling it’s ugly head. 

Astfalk also does an incredible job capturing the human condition. Dan’s angst over his past sins, and his sense of self worth. Emily’s self doubt. There is so much to rave about with this novel.

I could hardly put this book down. It is a true page turner. You will find yourself drawn in, and the characters will become like friends, and you will find yourself invested in what is happening to and with them. It is a very realistic read. 

This is an excellent read. It is a wonderful Christian novel, with a cautionary tale, and a story of redemption and recovery. I am very thankful I gave it and read and I am sure you will enjoy it if you give it a chance.

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