About the Book
Book: Shine the Light
Author: April McGowan
Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction
Release Date: April 15, 2019
Shannon is out to save the world one caring act at a time. She’s stood by her best friend, Amber, through their whole lives especially when Amber lost her sight. She has an active outreach ministry to the homeless and disenfranchised. And she’s even let down her guard long enough to let a boyfriend, Justin, into her life.
Her life has settled into a pleasing routine of teaching, freelance photography work, quiet dinners with Justin, and taking Amber on treks to find new subjects for her visionary paintings. But when a man from her past shows up, her secure world crumbles into triggered PTSD episodes that threaten everything she relies on. Will she be able to overcome these old memories, or will her past crush any hopes she had for a future?
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About the Author
April McGowan loves to read and write inspirational fiction. She and her husband, two children, and her ‘mews’ (three cats!), live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. April is a member of Oregon Christian Writers, the Christian Author’s Network, and American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not writing, homeschooling her son, or playing board games, you might find her at her drum kit, imagining she’s on a world tour. Hey, it could happen.
More from April
Writing About Tough Subjects—with Hope
I began writing over twenty years ago. And technically I wrote long before that as well. But those pieces were ‘just for fun.’ However, as I look back on my short stories, blog posts, and now my published work, there’s a definite theme: overcoming. Overcoming childhood abuse, overcoming an abusive marriage, overcoming loss—physical and emotional. And those overcoming stories were not about overcoming through our own strength, which is so often flawed and lacking, but by relying on the One who can heal us from every wrong, every hurt, and every loss.
After my first novel, Jasmine, I asked my readers what they’d like me to focus on in my next books—what subjects were overlooked in fiction today? The overwhelming consensus was adoption, loss, and mental illness.
As a contemporary fiction author, I stay current on social issues, so that wasn’t a huge jump for me. My readers saw a gap, and I did, too.
Not that it’s wrong to simply read for entertainment—shoot, I do! But I’ve always loved gripping stories with people I could identify with who were overcoming obstacles I’d faced or watched a loved one face—stories that offer real hope in the face of tragedy.
So began my journey. In book one of this series, Hold the Light, I wrote about sight loss and adoption. I wrote about best friends who were solidly there for each other in the face of great hardship and pain. And in book two, Shine the Light, I’m doing the same—with a twist.
There’s a lack of representation and writing concerning mental illness and how it affects the sufferer and those around them. There is a stigma that is significantly changing, but it’s something we’re still hesitant to discuss. Myself and many I know are deeply touched by this issue, and I think we’re long past due letting those that suffer from mental illness and their families know that they are not alone. Or if they are, that they don’t have to be.
Book two, Shine the Light, is about Shannon’s life. Her love for the downtrodden, the lost, and the injured. Her passion for the underdog. How she became the stalwart friend she is to Amber in Hold the Light, the obstacles she’s overcome, and those she has to continue to grapple through with God’s help.
As with all of my books, I’ve vetted this story with people who have faced these situations and am very careful to respect their stories as well as staying true to my characters. I hope you’ll dive in and find Shannon to be a deep and real and identifiable character. I hope you’ll discover in her a friend.
I know you’ll grow to love her as I do.
The giveaway: Many of my books are set in Portland, Oregon, and as a celebration of that, I’m offering a giveaway celebrating two of my favorite things about the city: Powell’s books and super good coffee! Also cats…but I can’t give one of those away in a contest! Well…I could try, but I’d probably fall in love with it and never send it to you…so for now, books and coffee!
I first met Shannon in Hold the Light (2015) while she was diligently helping her best friend, Amber, learn how to navigate a newly-sightless world. I loved how strong, compassionate, and patient Shannon was towards her struggling friend, and I hoped at the time that McGowan would write a sequel so I could learn Shannon’s full story because I knew it would be worth reading. Two years later, and I can tell you it has 1000% been worth the wait. Shine the Light is an outstanding story.
As we live the life that God has blessed us with, we naturally gravitate towards certain people. Boyfriends/girlfriends who become our spouses, best friends from college, or new friends from work become our self-made communities. These are the men and/or women we choose to bond with and share our struggles and wins with. Our communities can be big or small, but they are always filled with those we know we can count on and be our true selves with. There is a moment in the novel when Shannon realizes that “[God weaves] people into each other’s lives to mirror His love and teach them to trust Him.” What truth! God is an awesome Father, and He knows His kids so well. He knows our strengths, weaknesses, skills, and shortcomings, and He places people into our lives who will help make us better people who can trust Him despite it all. When I think on my self-made community I can’t help but smile. God brought such amazing people into my life who applaud me when I can’t and hold me accountable when I won’t. Through these wonderful people, I can say that I have come to love and trust God in a deeper, more meaningful way because of their guidance and sound counsel over the years.
There is a secondary character in this novel named Josie who opens her heart to Shannon and helps Shannon realize just how important it is to not only trust our self-made communities but to trust God as well. Josie shares a very important story with Shannon where she makes the following comment: “I realized I’d been trying to be God for him. To protect him from life and the hardships he might face.” You might say God gently love tapped me at this point in the novel. You see, I had a plan. I was going to graduate college, find an excellent job, purchase a beautiful house, marry the man of my dreams, have four perfect babies, and live happily ever after. Everything went according to plan until it came to the children part. God had other plans for me. My baby-making parts are severely broken. My one attempt at having a baby ended with her coming three months early and both of us almost dying. Oh, and I was told I could NEVER have babies again. My heart broke, but I knew everything would be OK because I have Bella. But then fear took over. “Wait! I only have one kid. I have to protect her at all costs,” is what I wholeheartedly believed. Nothing bad could ever happen to her because losing Bella would be a loss I could never come back from. So I protected her from everything — germs, other kids, playground equipment, adults, etc. Two years after my daughter’s birth and I was an exhausted, insane, control freak who had lost sight of God completely. I realized, like Josie did, that I had to stop my ways or I was going to lose everything. Trying to be God for my daughter alienated me from my self-made community, broke my relationship with God, and hurt my daughter. I learned that I have to let God be God. Life works better when I do.
There is so much more to Shine the Light that I could discuss. This is a novel of exceptional depth. But I know that if I keep typing I will spoil the story. Instead, I will end by saying that April McGowan is a superb storyteller who is not afraid to tackle big, tough issues. It was an absolute blessing to read this story, and I cannot recommend it enough. Shine the Light is a journey you do not want to miss!
I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author via Celebrate Lit. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
To celebrate her tour, April is giving away a grand prize of a $20 Powell’s gift card, Powell’s coffee mug, and Stumptown coffee!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!
Click the link below to enter.
Quiet Quilter, May 4
The Power of Words, May 4
Godly Book Reviews, May 5
Simple Harvest Reads, May 6 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Through the Fire Blogs, May 7
Real World Bible Study, May 9
Retrospective Spines, May 9
For Him and My Family, May 10
Mary Hake, May 10
Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 11
janicesbookreviews, May 11
Pause for Tales, May 12
A Reader’s Brain, May 12
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, May 13
The Christian Fiction Girl, May 14
Carpe Diem, May 15
Inklings and notions, May 15
Inspired by Fiction, May 16
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 17
Texas Book-aholic, May 17