Braver – Deborah Jenkins

This is lovely, gritty novel, focusing on characters who experience tough circumstances and difficult lives. It is well written, switching between the stories of the three main characters, whose lives interconnect, each written in a distinctive voice.

This book is a great reminder that at the heart of a local Church is a community – an eclectic mix of individuals who are thrown together, to share life, with its ups and downs. A family. A place of safety and kindness, where those who find that they have to be so brave just to face the world each day, can find refuge. That is what our churches need to be like.

This book shows how broken people can be broken free by the love of Jesus, shown through everyday people. Life is tough, with everyone carrying baggage of some sort. The characters here are not exceptional, with the issues they face being mirrored in the communities around us all. Sometimes the sufferers are just very good at hiding in plain sight. But these people are around us and need us to reach out to them.

The passages written from the point of view of a character suffering from high anxiety and OCD, I found especially insightful. Some clever writing that brings the reader straight in to an understanding of the way the character’s mind is working. This character also has a line that for some reason really tickled me … “Hazel is ambivalent about marmite.”

It really is a heartwarming story of everyday life.

It is worth noting for some readers that it does come with a language warning. In the passages where there is dialogue between the teenage lads, there is the occasional graphic swear word. In my view it is in context and realistic, but I know some Christian readers prefer to be warned about it.

Braver, by Deborah Jenkins, is available here.