Christian fiction, also called inspirational fiction, can appeal to readers who want a faith-based perspective in their reading. According to Amy Green, a publicist for publisher Bethany House, “The common stereotype from 20 years ago was that Christian fiction was mostly sweet and not very controversial. Someone picking up a book [now] might be surprised to find that it’s not what their grandmother’s Christian fiction looked like.”

Many inspirational fiction readers use the Litchfield Library regularly, so we get some traditional Christian fiction automatically in large print each month. We have recently added some other inspirational novels that have gotten good reviews and have won awards.

“Whose Waves These Are” is a novel by Amanda Dykes that was named Book of the Year in 2020 at the Christy Awards, which are given for outstanding Christian fiction. A fisherman from a tiny town in Maine publishes a poem in the newspaper in 1944, asking people to send him a rock for the person they lost in the war, and promising he would build something with them. The poem goes viral (before that was a term), and when his niece comes to help him in 2001, she finds boxes of rocks still in his house and stone ruins on an island. This work of romantic historical fiction is described as moving and subtle, with believable characters and themes of grief, atonement, and hope. The novel was published in 2019 but is new to the Litchfield collection.

Dykes also wrote “Set the Stars Alight,” another seaside novel set in both the past and the present day. In this book, the events of the past take place 200 years before. A marine archaeologist discovers an artifact in her late parents’ home in London, and her astronomer friend helps her explore its link to a story of three young friends at an estate on the coast, generations earlier. Reviewers say it has surprising twists and heartwarming friendship, and that it should appeal to both inspirational and secular fiction readers.

“The Girl Behind the Red Rope” is a novel by Ted Dekker and his daughter Rachelle Dekker. Ted is a bestselling author of many Christian thriller, fantasy, and historical novels. “The Girl Behind the Red Rope” is a thriller about a girl living in an isolated religious community in Tennessee, following the rules that will keep her safe and pure, and staying behind the barrier surrounding them. The arrival of the first outsiders she has seen in a decade cause her to question everything. Reviewers say it’s a suspenseful and provocative novel about the world of religious extremism, but ultimately hopeful. It won the 2020 Christy Award in the best mystery/suspense/thriller category.

“All Manner of Things” by Susie Finkbeiner was a finalist for the 2020 Christy Award in the category of general fiction. Set in 1967, the novel features an estranged family in a small town who are learning to come together while the main character’s brother is serving as an army medic in Vietnam. Reviewers describe it as realistic and beautifully written, featuring believable characters who reach the end of the book with greater faith and mutual respect.

Other recent additions to the Litchfield Library’s inspirational fiction collection include “A Lady in Attendance” by Rachel Fordham, “Fragments of Light” by Michele Phoenix, and “On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor” by Jamie Jo Wright.

The finalists for the 2021 Christy Awards will be announced soon. Look for those lists if you enjoy Christian fiction and are looking for top-notch writing.

— Beth Cronk is Meeker County librarian, overseeing all the Pioneerland Library Sysbem libraries in the county, including Litchfield, Cosmos, Dassel and Grove City.