Shaped by the Waves

Reviewed by

Isabelle LaPapa from North Aurora, Illinois, a Professional Writing student at Taylor University in Upland, IN.



Shaped by the Waves


Christina Suzann Nelson


Bethany House Publishers

Publication Date:

February 2022


Print book


352 Pages


Cassie George is a single mom to her four-year-old daughter, Lark. She hears of her Aunt Shasta’s decreasing health due to a stroke and Parkinson’s disease and rushes home to Gull’s Bay, Oregon, the town she was raised in by Shasta. She believes the town will despise her because of how she made a poor decision in having Lark while in college and running to California to pursue a master’s degree afterward.

When she gets to Gull’s Bay and takes on the role of becoming her aunt’s caregiver, Cassie receives a manuscript in the mail that reveals something about her own hidden past. While the story unfolds, we see glimpses of the life of Nora, another mother living in Gull’s Bay. She is pregnant with her third daughter which she resents. All the while she struggles with diabetes from her pregnancy and a whole other family discovered through a DNA test.

The main story unfolds through Cassie’s perspective. She must learn to overcome her own pride and self-pity to allow the townspeople of Gull’s Bay to help care for her and her family. The story revolves around the themes of community.




Suggested Audience:

Primarily white Christian middle-aged women.

Christian Impact:

While this book speaks on the solid faith of supporting characters, there is no spiritual substance to the internal struggle of the main heroine, Cassie. She monologues about her disconnect from the Christian faith she was raised in, but never truly finds a path to follow. There are maybe three instances in the entire book where she acknowledges her own personal faith. There is no conclusion. The only part of the book where there is any call to action is when the local pastor leaves the metaphorical door open to her for prayer or support in the church. The book ends with no clear answer if Cassie ever put more thought into her faith, whether she drew away or grew closer.

There is also a moment where another character tells Cassie that she found her faith after giving up hope and attempting suicide. This character then was given a Bible and found her hope again. This felt cliched and out of place. It implied that all the grief in the book was just a ploy to preach to readers that the Bible is all you need.

Other Notes:

My biggest issue with this book is the sadistic quality of the story. The author writes the conflicts the characters must go through in rapid succession with no break or joy. The grief is overwhelming and the chronic fatigue from every character’s perspective wears on the reader. The struggles are also written as a plot point rather than things real people have to go through. It came off as pain just for the sake of hurting the characters and then no hope or joy came from it in the end.

The romance between Cassie and Marshal is lackluster. There is no development and Cassie seems to never really come to a clear opinion on him. She only verbally expresses any kind of romantic sentiment once in the final pages of the book in an unsatisfying way. Every scene that comes close to building their chemistry falls flat with an obvious lack of detail and emotion. At the end of the book, their relationship is vague at best with no real conclusion.

Nora, the side character in this book, shouldn’t be featured at all. She is a terrible person, and the reader has no reason to cheer her on as a secondary protagonist. She doesn’t model good character, and she has no character development that gives us a reason to like her instead of hate her as the bitter wife and hateful mother she is made out to be. She is a secondary point of view, but cutting all of her scenes wouldn’t impact the main plot in the slightest.

The author makes it clear she doesn’t write people of color well. There are comments about the love interest, who is Black, that sound off and ignorant. The author describes his skin tone multiple times with comparisons to brown foods and drinks. She also writes that the character pales and blushes red. These interactions and more don’t sit right.



Shaped by the Waves

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