Genre: YA Christian Fiction
Rating: Four Crosses
I was very, very fortunate to get to read an Advanced Reader Copy of Fade to White by Tara K. Ross back in April, prior to the book’s release. Tara and I have been social media buddies for a while now, and the premise of her debut novel intrigued me… I knew I just had to get my hands on it!
The truth is, I’ve been a very skeptical reader when it comes to Christian Fiction. Christian Fiction is a light to a lot of other people, and for that I’m grateful, but it never really clicked for me. In all honesty, it tends to annoy me more than anything because it gets overly preachy. I had a slight worry when I started Tara’s book that it would be in the same boat, but I was both shocked and delighted when I found out it wasn’t. In fact, it didn’t even seem to be in the same OCEAN as the Christian Fiction books I used to try to read in my younger days, and Tara’s book has challenged my preconceived notions about Christian Fiction.
So…what is Fade to White about?
“Thea Fenton’s life looks picture-perfect, but inside, she is falling apart. Wracked by anxiety no one seems to understand or care about, she resorts to self-harm to deflect the pain inside.
When a local teen commits suicide, Thea’s anxiety skyrockets. Unexplainable things happen, leaving her feeling trapped within her own chaotic mind. The lines between reality and another world start to blur, and her previously mundane issues seem more daunting and insurmountable than ever.
Then she meets Khi, a mysterious new boy from the coffee shop who seems to know her better than she knows herself—and doesn’t think she’s crazy. His quiet confidence and unfounded familiarity draw her into an unconventional friendship.
Khi journeys with her through grief, fear, and confusion to arrive at compassion for the one person Thea never thought she could love.
A deeply transformational novel from an authentic new voice in Christian young adult fiction.”
Thea is a raw, very relatable and personable character. I don’t think there was ever a moment in the book that I didn’t care for her. She truly struggles with a lot of the same issues most high-schoolers today face, and her struggles are never, ever downplayed by Ross, which is something that I really appreciated. Her struggle with anxiety and OCD is hard to read at points, but so needed, and it really struck a chord with me since I have both of these mental illnesses myself.
I loved the dynamics of Thea’s family, which is ironic considering her parents fight a lot. Her brother is a beacon of light, if not a wee bit of a troublemaker, and as the story goes along, it shows her parents trying and loving their children, even if they get it wrong a lot of times when their own fighting gets in the way.
Thea’s friends were also great characters in this book. They’re shown as good people, even as non-Christians, and Thea doesn’t just abandon them in her journey of faith nor look down on them. They fight like any other group of friends and then they mend things and come back together. This is something that I rarely saw in Christian Fiction growing up, with the emphasis being toward becoming a Christian means you need to have mostly strictly Christian friends, and I thought Ross did a phenomenal job of challenging that.
And Khi. Oh my goodness, where do I even begin with Khi? He’s genuine and a singer and he understands Thea, and basically Khi is just a bucket of swoons, okay? I loved how he embraced an open friendship with Thea first and he listened to her, truly listened to her, when she spoke.
Another honorable mention of the book: Thea’s obsession for tea, especially London Fogs. This girl is my spirit animal.
Overall, there’s very little about this book I didn’t like. I did think the beginning was a tad bit slow, and I do wish the book had more of Khi than it did, but it is a phenomenal story that has challenged my preconceived notions of Christian Fiction and makes me want to read everything Ross writes in the future.
Tara K. Ross proves herself to be a masterful new storyteller, and Fade to White is a book everyone needs to read, especially if they struggle with or want to understand some of the aspects of anxiety and OCD.
To check out my interview with Tara from a couple weeks ago, you can find it here!