This is a debut novel from Amada Cox and credit to her for stepping out and applying her superb storytelling abilities to this story. The Edge of Belonging is an easy read, set at a good pace, with the dual time lines keeping the reader interested all the way through.
The Christian message and themes are strong enough to weave the characters together, but should not put any non-Christian off from reading and enjoying it. So perhaps this is also a good book to recommend to non-Christian readers.
The story was especially of interest to me, as a foster carer. The backgrounds, experiences and outcomes of the characters were influenced by their exposure to the harrowing experiences that push children into fostering and adoption.
The topic was handled with authenticity and understanding of the complicated emotional responses to adoption and fostering, that are not always rational to someone looking in from the outside. But for those who are in the midst of it, consumed by it, these feelings are immense and overwhelming. Amanda deals with the issues sensitively and with a genuine aim to communicate to the reader the complex emotions and feelings when individuals are lost in their search for belonging, family and identity.
Without wanting to give away the plot, it is a story full of happy endings. This brings a sense of romance to the stories, but then the very nature of God is that he is a God of happy endings. So it makes sense that the story shouts about the goodness of God throughout and it is touching to see the hand of God on the characters’ lives throughout, even if they do not spot it at the time. It felt as though the words of Psalm 23 were being prayed over each character as they journeyed through the story:
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
It is very much a story of hope, showing us that despite our brokenness, even extreme brokenness that can transcend generations, there is always the hope of release and salvation.