Book Review: A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert (2014)
Katie Ganshert's newest novel, A Broken Kind of Beautiful hits stores on April 15th, 2014.
Read Chapter One
It is the story of Ivy Clark, a ravishingly beautiful young woman of a hard upbringing. She is the daughter of an adulterer and his mistress, and the one thing she always wanted but could never attain was her father's love. Not even the affection lavishing on her every summer by her father's wife, Marilyn, could make the ache go away. He didn't want her. Never wanted her. So, when the opportunity arises for her to start modeling with her father's brother, Bruce, as her agent, she takes it. Her mother is dead and apart from foster homes, she has little choice, entering the world of modeling as a young teenager and never looking back. She learns the walk, the talk, and puts every ounce of her womanhood to use in manipulating men and making a name for herself in the modeling community.
But now Ivy is getting old. She's nearly 25, a death knell in the modeling business. Her career is ebbing, and Ivy clutches desperately at ways to recover and attain the type of notoriety that would assure her job even as she ages. But it's not working and finally Ivy has only one job offer, from her father's wife Marilyn, to come model a photo shoot of wedding dresses from Marilyn's bridal shop, Something New. The last thing Ivy wants is to return to small-town Americana where all she remembers is the hurt of her father's indifference, a man now dead without ever reconciling with his daughter. She has no choice.
Perhaps it is the loving atmosphere that Marilyn exudes that starts to soften Ivy's heart. Then again there's Davis, Marilyn's nephew and no blood relation to Ivy, whose determination to not be seduced tilts her entire world on an angle. A man who treats her like a lady and refuses to take advantage? All Ivy knows is that she is now caught between two worlds. The world of modeling that no longer wants her, or a life that includes Marilyn, a woman who has always loved her, and Davis, a man who is nearly as broken as Ivy herself. Fortunately for all involved, God is still in the business of healing the brokenhearted.
Modeling was never on my childhood radar. My life included climbing the tallest tree in the backyard so I could see the ocean over the house, helping my dad dismantle the family car when it started wheezing, and fishing on the weekend. That was my life. So, connecting with a character like Ivy Clark is nearly impossible. I grieve for her and ache for the pain she's gone through, but it is a distant grief because I have never experienced anything even remotely similar. If anything, Ivy's story reminds me of little Jon-Benet Ramsey, a child beauty pageant queen who was murdered when I was still pretty much a child myself. That little girl's photo was splashed across magazines and newspapers for months, even years, calling for justice in her slaying, a justice that never came. Every time I look at that perfect face I always wonder how her parents could steal her childhood from her like that. I'm not talking about murder, but about forcing her into beauty competitions. It's an ugly, ugly world, so when I read the story of Ivy Clark, I though of poor Jon-Benet. Life is nasty in that world and I wouldn't wish that existence on anyone.
The one thing in the book I didn't really like is the ending. It felt rushed and a little too symbolic for my taste. When heroines need to make a change of heart and mind, they need to do it on their own. Not have the decision foisted on them because there is no other option. Ivy was backed up against a wall. The ending felt too easy, which is probably crazy since it is a painful conclusion (yes, there is still a happy ending). But the end really did feel like the author didn't know where else to take the story so she figured this would be a good option of getting Ivy out of that life. By forcing her through circumstances. Like I said, it felt too easy, but oh well.
Even though my own life experiences are nothing like Ivy's, I know her story will move many, many readers. Ms. Ganshert is a fairly new author on the Christian scene, and she has a distinctive voice that will garner a loyal readership following. Her stories aren't mundane or simple. They handle the dirty and agonizing real-life heartbreak that happens all the time. A Broken Kind of Beautiful is still a winner even though I never fully connected with either Ivy or Davis.
- I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review