Author: Amanda Cox
Genre: Inspirational Fiction
Release Date: September 8, 2020
BOOK OF THE YEAR!
When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee her late grandmother's estate sale, she soon discovers that the woman left behind more than trinkets and photo frames--she provided a path to the truth behind Ivy's adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.
Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he's ever loved.
In this dual-timeline story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truth--both the search for it and the desire to keep it from others--takes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.
Reviewer: Rebecca Maney
"There really are people who are alone in the world. People who have no one to look after them. . . . If the story of my life could say one thing, I'd hope it would show the importance of venturing into the highways and the hedges to let invisible people know they're seen and loved."
Harvey James was one of "those"people. Alone in the world, surviving on his own by remaining invisible. . . . until one day the cries of one who was even more vulnerable than he, sounded from the edge of belonging; and life was never the same.
Ivy Rose returns home with a heart full of sadness and a mind that hasn't fully recovered from the weight of her misjudgments; the fact of the matter is, she feels lost or maybe she was never found . . . . except that she was . . . found . . . all those years ago on her parents doorstep. Cleaning out Grandma Pearl's possessions will be bittersweet, but she won't be alone, not really. And she has so many questions . . . . and judging from her grandma's final correspondence, Pearl had the answers.
"There are things I never told you. Sometimes I kept silent because I lacked wisdom to know how to speak difficult truths. . . . . I knew I couldn't leave this world without giving you answers to the questions that have plagued your mind since you were a little girl." But the journal that her grandma unveils . . . is nowhere to be found.
Without a doubt, readers have just been introduced to an author with an incredible acuity for deep, authentic stories; delivered with a measure of tenderness and grace.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.
Reviewer: Mary Polyakov
I knew after finishing this book that I couldn't put the full experience into words. The closest I can come is to say that it felt like a hug. It felt simultaneously comforting and eye-opening. It has life beyond the pages, and those pages were infused with hope and healing.
Everything about it is genuine, and there was no place for contrived misunderstandings, drama, or superficiality because the characters had so much depth. They care about each other, they keep reaching out when it's hard and their attempts are rejected. They keep offering support, whether to a homeless man trying to take care of a baby abandoned like himself, a hurting best friend learning to lean on others again, or a grieving wife learning to navigate a new life. And I loved how the author took the familiar concept of found family and expounded on it, showing that family is who you love.
This book came to me when I needed it and blessed me so much. I found myself making notes in the margins and empathizing with the characters more than I thought I could.
This quote beautifully embodies the heart of this book:
"There came a point when it was like a knife had cut through the fog. Marriage, relationships, they were made for learning. Not as an excuse not to grow, mind you. But we all need a place to rest and be reassured. God puts people in our lives to have and to hold. To give this existence richer meaning. I don't think we were ever meant to fight life's battles alone."
*happy sigh* I'd recommend this to those who love found family stories with strong relationships and a touching redemptive arc.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell, through Interviews & Reviews. A positive review was not required.
Reviewer: Raechel Kelly
This is one of the most beautiful stories I might have ever read. Truly, I was just completely captured by the characters, and the immense heart that is displayed on every page. Going into this book, I expected to enjoy it, but oh my goodness, it just reached in and touched my heart instead.
It's a duel-timeline story, which normally I sometimes struggle with, but this was handled in such a way that both told the same story, just different ends of it, and it all tied together so beautifully. So expertly.
This book is just one that will pull on your heartstrings, plain and simple. Harvey's sacrificial love for the abandoned baby he finds is remarkable, and the pulling together of a family that is not conventional - was awesome and incredibly touching. Not to mention the present-day story of Ivy herself discovering her past, healing from her own hurt, and her relationship with her best friend Reese - it is all just so good.
I know this isn't really a coherent review, but I don't know how to change that because I just loved it so much. All the emotion came across the page so life-like and so tenderly. I read the majority of the book in one day, and I haven't done that in a while.
A spectacular debut novel!! Utterly touching and beautiful.
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group (Revell), through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Olivia R.
You know when you pick up a book and know from the beginning the story is gonna be beautiful? This one was just that, but even more beautiful than I anticipated. The theme of family and God's love truly spoke to my heart in a way I can't describe. This story was what I needed right now and the gentleness of the writing that shaped Harvey, Pearl, Ivy, and the others made me never want to put the book down.
We all seek to belong and to be loved. I really don't have words to share the beauty of this theme that ran through every page and made me *feel* exactly how each person felt. It truly is inspiring and I can't recommend it enough!
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell through Interviews & Reviews and NetGalley.
Reviewer: Marie Edwards
Thank you in advance to Revell (a division of Baker Books) for providing a complimentary review copy through their Revell Reads Blogger program. A positive review was not required and all words are my own.
I have never finished a book so quickly in my entire life – particularly one that is this long (roughly it is 371 pages from the first chapter to the last sentence). I started this book on 9/13/2020 at around 4:35pm and read it off/on until I finished at around 1:30am on 9/14. That was roughly nine (9) hours. And, it wasn’t continual hours either.
This stunning, emotional, and dynamic book is from debut novelist Amanda Cox. And, what a debut it is! She carefully crafted a tale that shows what true love is as well as the definition of family.
What drew me in was the blurb from the back of the book as well as the stunning cover which is alternately haunting. I couldn’t wait to get this book and dive right in. It didn’t hurt that I had heard some stellar reviews of this book prior to its release.
The characters are haunting and yet inspirational – a young woman trying to figure out who she is in more ways than one, her parents with a secret, her uncle, and a grandmother who wants to tell Ivy the truth. There is also Ivy’s fiancé, Seth, who is rather abusive and controlling. I didn’t like him from the onset, and it was no surprise at how he reacted throughout the novel. Ivy’s best-friend Reese was one of the strongest supporting characters. Is it bad I was hoping to see Reese knock the snot out of Seth at one point?
These people shaped Ivy into the person she is, but she cannot seem to see that. At first.
There are some references to rape, human trafficking, prostitution, and abuse though. Cox handles them with tact and dignity given them the respect and awareness they deserve.
This is a dual timeline story, all told in third (3rd) person. The past is seen from Harvey (Ivy’s uncle “Vee”), Tom (Ivy’s father), Miriam (Ivy’s mother), and Pearl’s (Ivy’s grandmother) POV. At one point there is Laney/Rose’s POV. Readers might catch on to who she is. I did with her introduction. In present day, the story is told completely from Ivy’s POV. All of this works together to craft a beautiful story about Ivy’s past.
From the beginning, Harvey’s assessment of being homeless puts things into perspective. He also has an interesting note about lost luggage and trash. Cox adding in a funny story about “noodle” cups lightened the mood and tone. Not that the tone is heavy, it isn’t bright with sunshine either.
Cox made it easy to keep track of the characters and the timeline while still carefully crafting the story and taking readers through this wonderful journey. She even tackles what depression is like and how misunderstood it is by others.
Pearl taking care of Harvey instead of judging him or his life; building love day by day is heart-warming and heart-breaking. Readers will perhaps see why there is a connection between Pearl and Harvey.
Cox’s messages about what makes a family is extremely beautiful and touching. Reese tends to bring an army to rally around Ivy whereas Seth was about isolation. Cox has a poignant message in chapter two about “sometimes a person just needs to know that they’re not alone in this world”. With Ivy learning to find her way back to find out who she is – she learns to love and be loved the author demonstrates that.
There is hope despite loss. And, there is healing with home, family, and belonging. And, given Harvey’s issue with cars (which is completely understandable) – reading the present-day parts made me smile.
The plot was absolutely masterful and powerful. I was so mesmerized I couldn’t put this book down for any great length of time. Very seldom does a book grip me like this one did. The short chapters and quick pacing, made this a rapid read that gripped me from the end of chapter one until the very end of the book. I was still wanting a bit more when I closed the book. Not sure if this is a standalone read, but I would like to see a follow-up/sequel. And, I will be eagerly awaiting the author’s next book.
And, for a debut author, Cox was perfect!
As this is distributed by Revell, there will be some Christian/faith elements. As one of the characters is a pastor; there are going to be references to God, Jesus, prayer, and bible quotes. These are not central to the main story and are used in sparse amounts. This is a clean read with no sex scenes or foul language.
Those who enjoy uplifting, hopeful, and inspiring stories with a dual timeline are certain to enjoy this stellar debut.
This is a five star, HIGH re-read book for me. I’ll definitely be talking about it for days.
Reviewer: Adriann Harris
There are not enough stars in the universe to rate Amanda Cox’s debut, The Edge of Belonging.
Amanda Cox created six equally extraordinary strong characters, who each in their own way were broken, for her readers to fall in love with, which I did over and over again. In 1994 we are introduced to Pearl (Grandma), who tries to be the healer of this family of misfits: Harvey James (a 30-year-old homeless orphan), who just wants to be loved, Ivy Rose (an abandoned newborn), the glue who is loved by all, Pastor Thomas Lashley (the new minister at Triune First) and his wife, Miriam. In the present day (24 years later), Amanda Cox continues the ties that bind the original five characters and adds a new character Reese Dylan Wright (Ivy’s childhood friend). These six individuals come together, forming a family for a little girl named Ivy Rose. Amanda Cox’s prose is engrossing, capturing this reader’s attention from the first word to the last. She guides us through her characters’ lives as they deal with physical and emotional abuse, foster care, homelessness, suicide, and PTSD with dignity, compassion, and forgiveness.
Usually, at this point in my review, I let my fellow readers know which timeline I preferred and who my favorite character is, and why. However, for the first time, I find this impossible. Throughout the entire book, I was equally drawn to both timelines and each individual character’s story. So much so that I still cannot stop thinking about them. Emotionally this is the best roller coaster ride I have been on in a very long time. Being a Christian fiction reader, I have read many times split books, and this is the best debut I have ever read by far. I highly recommend The Edge of Belonging to everyone who wants to read an awe-inspiring heartfelt story of a group of strangers who become a family built on faith and love.
I received this book courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell via NetGalley through Interviews & Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Lori Parrish
This book was terrific! I couldn’t put the book down because I needed to see what happens between Reese and Ivy. I did laugh at some of their antics in the book because that’s what friends do.
There were also some places that my heart broke for the characters too. I found myself wanting to pray for them, as well. Have y’all ever done that? Ivy’s story spoke to my heart so much because you see, I’ve been adopted too, and my parents were vague about it, just like Ivy’s parents.
I love this quote that Ivy’s mom said, “You and Reese will change one way or another, whether you like it or not. You can’t hang on to what once was forever.”
So many times, I wish I could hang on to the past, but then we couldn’t enjoy what God has in store for us now, could we? Friends like Reese and Ivy are a rarity indeed. For once you find one, you’d better hang on to them. For they will always be there for you no matter what.
This is a new to me author who I will be adding to my long, long list of favorites! This story will pull you in from the beginning and not let you go. It will leave you thinking about it long after it’s over. I didn’t want it to end. It was so good! I highly recommend this book.
I received this book courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell through Interviews & Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
Amanda Cox is definitely going on my new favourite author list with her debut book, The Edge of Belonging. This inspirational dual-timeline story grabs you from the first page. It never lets go until well after you've finished reading it. I'm still thinking about it.
Harvey James is homeless and lives in a lean-to in the woods. He has spent his entire life depending on himself without ever genuinely knowing love of any kind. When he finds an abandoned baby near his home, he immediately decides to care for her and tells no one. Who would let a homeless man care for a baby? This must be his secret to keep from the outside world. This little girl, who he names Ivy, is finally someone he can love and will love him back. How can he keep her a secret from other people when he needs to get baby food, diapers and clothes to care for her? This first challenge leads to a fantastic encounter for Harvey and the beginning of a story that will leave readers breathless.
While we find out how Harvey got Ivy, we see how Ivy has fared in the future. This interesting storyline collides in a way that will bring you to tears, both sad and happy. I loved this book!
I loved Pearl! Her interactions with Harvey were gentle and genuine. How their lives become entwined makes this a book worth reading. The topics of homelessness, foster care, suicide, PTSD, emotional and physical abuse are all touched upon and covered sensitively and realistically.
The title of this book is so appropriate and brings out the faith element of how we all belong to God. If you ever doubted God was involved in your life, this book will confirm He is there from the very beginning. Before you even know Him. God is always at work even when we don't see Him, hear Him or think He's even there. I can't say enough good things about this book. Read it. Be inspired. I know I was.
I received this book courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell and NetGalley for my honest opinion.
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