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Shades of Light protagonist Wren Crawford is someone I found relatable. She’s a caring social worker who collides with compassion fatigue, burnout, and perhaps a genetic predisposition to depression and anxiety. Wren’s also an amateur artist who cares deeply about beached whales and other tragic events on our planet.

Author Garlough Brown opted for a multiple-points-of-view story. When Wren can’t make sense of her world—when she sinks into depression and words fail, her mother, Jamie, whom Garlough Brown labels “a co-sufferer,” tells the story.

In taking on depression in the life of a believer, Garlough Brown goes after the un-Christian Christian shaming long-endured by those who struggle. Jamie remembers helplessly watching Wren as a middle schooler believing her anxiety showed she really didn’t trust Jesus enough.

At her book launch, Brown, also a pastor, chided the church for harming those with mental illness. “The church historically has not done well,” she said and listed comments some Christians make to those suffering with depression: “Don’t you know to fix your mind on Jesus?” or “Pray harder” or “Read more scripture.”

This issue has special significance for Brown. “Why is it important to me? Because it’s impacted people I love.” She explained that her son fights against depression and anxiety and has given her permission to write about it.

Brown has a three-point goal for Shades of Light: that it would be a comfort for those who have depression and anxiety, that it would be a voice for the co-sufferer, and that it would “exhort the church to be more discerning and compassionate—and less dismissive and judgmental.”

For those who’ve followed the Sensible Shoes series, its familiar characters will make cameo appearances, starting with Hannah who ministers to Wren.

A novella sequel, Remember Me, arrives Dec. 10 and contains character Wren’s artwork of the Stations of the Cross. The art is done by artist Elizabeth Ivy Hawkins.

Shades of Light offers needed love and needed empathy for those who stand in a gray shade of light. (IVP)

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