Top 10 Tuesday — Out of The Comfort Zone

3 Sep

This week on Top 10 Tuesday we are talking books that took us out of our comfort zone. I generally think of new genres when hearing out of comfort zone reads, but today I am going to highlight books with difficult subject matter. The books on my list are beautifully written and touched my heart, but were definitely not light and easy reads. They focus on the difficulties of life — the things we hope never to experience. Why read books like this? To challenge, to inform, to engage our sympathies (and empathy), to make us uncomfortable. But lest you think these selections are going to leave you feeling worse than when you started them, please know they are filled with grace and redemption. If you haven’t read some on my list, I hope you find one that will speak to your heart.

For more out of comfort zone reading, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

When Annie Jacobson’s brother Mike enlists as a medic in the Army in 1967, he hands her a piece of paper with the address of their long-estranged father. If anything should happen to him in Vietnam, Mike says, Annie must let their father know.

In Mike’s absence, their father returns to face tragedy at home, adding an extra measure of complication to an already tense time. As they work toward healing and pray fervently for Mike’s safety overseas, letter by letter the Jacobsons must find a way to pull together as a family, regardless of past hurts. In the tumult of this time, Annie and her family grapple with the tension of holding both hope and grief in the same hand, even as they learn to turn to the One who binds the wounds of the brokenhearted.

Author Susie Finkbeiner invites you into the Jacobson family’s home and hearts during a time in which the chaos of the outside world touched their small community in ways they never imagined.

Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells

Folks are dying fast as the ash trees in the southern Indiana town ravaged by the heroin epidemic, where Jaycee Givens lives with nothing more than a thread of hope and a quirky neighbor, Sudie, who rescues injured wildlife. After a tragedy leaves her mother in prison, Jaycee is carrying grief and an unplanned pregnancy she conceals because she trusts no one, including the kind and handsome Gabe, who is new to town and to the local diner where she works.

Dividing her time between the diner and Sudie’s place, Jaycee nurses her broken heart among a collection of unlikely friends who are the closest thing to family that she has. Eventually, she realizes she can’t hide her pregnancy any longer―not even from the baby’s abusive father, who is furious when he finds out. The choices she must make for the safety of her unborn child threaten to derail any chance she ever had for hope and redemption. Ultimately, Jaycee must decide whether the truest form of love means hanging on or letting go.

How Sweet The Sound by Amy K. Sorrells

Wealth and etiquette can hide a lot of things in the South, as the esteemed Harlan family of sleepy Bay Spring, Alabama, knows. But behind the gentle facade of white pillared porches and acres of cultivated pecan orchards, family secrets smolder.

Young Anniston Harlan cares little for high society and the rigid rules and expectations of her grandmother, Princella. She finds solace working the orchards alongside her father and grandfather, and relief in the cool waters of Mobile Bay.

Anniston’s aunt, Comfort Harlan, has never quite lived up to the family name, or so her mother Princella’s ever-apparent scowl implies. When she gleefully accepts the proposal of her longtime boyfriend, Solly, a flood tide of tragedy ensues that strips Comfort of her innocence and unleashes generations of family secrets, changing the Harlan family forever.

While Comfort struggles to recover, Anniston discovers an unlikely new friend from the seedy part of town who helps her try to make sense of the chaos. Together, they and the whole town of Bay Spring discover how true love is a risk, but one worth taking.

Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

Before Christ called her daughter . . .

Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .

Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?

Lead Me Home By Amy K. Sorrells

Amid open fields and empty pews, small towns can crush big dreams.

Abandoned by his no-good father and forced to grow up too soon, Noble Burden has set his dreams aside to run the family farm. Meanwhile, James Horton, the pastor of the local church, questions his own calling as he prepares to close the doors for good.

As a severe storm rolls through, threatening their community and very livelihood, both men fear losing what they care about most . . . and reconsider where they truly belong.

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

For fans of bestselling World War II fiction like Sarah’s Key and The Nightingale comes an illuminating tale of courage, sacrifice, and survival, about two couples whose lives are ravaged by Hitler’s mad war yet eventually redeemed through the fate of one little girl.

Seemingly overnight, the German blitzkrieg of Warsaw in 1939 turns its streets to a war zone and shatters the life of each citizen — Polish, Jewish, or otherwise. Sophie Kumiega, a British bride working in the city’s library, awaits news of her husband, Janek, recently deployed with the Polish Air Force. Though Sophie is determined that she and the baby in her womb will stay safe, the days ahead will draw her into the plight of those around her, compelling her to help, whatever the danger.

Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich never imagined they would welcome their longed-for first child in the Jewish ghetto, or that they would let anything tear their family apart. But as daily atrocities intensify, Rosa soon faces a terrifying reality: to save their daughter’s life, she must send her into hiding. Her only hope of finding her after the war — if any of them survive — is a medallion she cuts in half and places around her neck.

Inspired by true events of Poland’s darkest days and brightest heroes, The Medallion paints a stunning portrait of war and its aftermath, daring us to believe that when all seems lost, God can make a way forward.

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay

Right up until the day they burned the church, I thought I understood things. You know… God, people, myself. Life. Then, suddenly, I understood nothing except that we had to run. And that we might never make it home.

When eighteen-year-old Cori signed up for a mission trip to Indonesia she was mostly thinking about escaping her complicated love life, making new friends, and having fun on the beach.

She never expected a civil war to flare up on the nearby island of Ambon.

She never expected violence to find them.

And she never expected that seven teenagers would be forced to flee into the hazardous refuge of the mountains on their own.

Now, haunted by blood and fire, Cori and her teammates must rely on each other to survive.

No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

Challenging perceptions of discrimination and prejudice, this emotionally resonant drama for readers of Lisa Wingate and Jodi Picoult explores three different women navigating challenges in a changing school district — and in their lives.

When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray — the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser — faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones–the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that”, when such complexity exists in each person?

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request–that she look up a relative she didn’t know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos — seems like it isn’t worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.

At her great-aunt’s 150-year-old farmhouse north of Detroit, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes readers on an emotional journey through time — from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Michigan’s Underground Railroad during the Civil War — to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.

When The Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma

Natia has a secret, and she’s hiding him right beneath her captor’s nose . . .

The Nazis have forced Natia and Teodor from their Polish farm to a labor camp. When the couple is separated, Natia is chosen to be the housekeeper for the camp’s overseer, and Teodor is sent to work in the factory. Despite the strict camp rules — and the consequences for disobeying them — Natia finds a way to communicate with Teodor by sending messages through song as she passes Teodor’s dormitory.

The stakes get higher when Natia finds a Jewish orphan on the overseer’s doorstep. She is determined to protect the boy and raise him as the child she and her husband were unable to bear — but if her German captors discover how much she’s hiding, both she and Teodor may pay the ultimate price.

9 Responses to “Top 10 Tuesday — Out of The Comfort Zone”

  1. Mir (TBR and Beyond) September 3, 2019 at 6:30 am #

    I’ve never heard of some of these. I’ve been surprised a lot by books out of my comfort zone, thinking I wouldn’t enjoy them. But turns out most I’ve tried I’ve loved.

    Like

    • rbclibrary September 3, 2019 at 3:20 pm #

      I agree. A great reason to read out of favorite genres too.

      Like

  2. lydiaschoch September 3, 2019 at 9:00 am #

    My Hands Came Away sounds like a very good read. Thanks for telling us about it.

    My TTT.

    Like

  3. Carrie September 3, 2019 at 10:11 am #

    oh! When the Heart Sings! yes!! Such a great book but heartwrenching too. I need to read all the others, except Land of Silence. I need to get busy! LOL

    Like

    • rbclibrary September 3, 2019 at 3:19 pm #

      Yes you do! Your list plus mine just proves there are some really great CF books out there!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carrie September 3, 2019 at 4:07 pm #

        absolutely!

        Like

  4. RS September 7, 2019 at 8:54 pm #

    These are all new to me, which is always fun. Before I Saw You and My Hands Came Away Read sound really good!

    Like

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