by Jacquelin Thomas

January 2006
ISBN: 0-373-78553-4
Reviewer Graphic Button Steeple Hill
Trade Paperback

Sela and Rodney Barnes have enjoyed twenty years of a wonderful marriage and have just renewed their marital vows. Their daughter, Ayanna has come home was a new boyfriend and suddenly, the world changes. Rodney collapses with pain on his left side – and life changes forever.

After Rodney’s death, Sela struggles to make peace with Rodney’s parents—even though they have always resented her for being black and for corrupting their precious son. Now, Rodney’s parents seem to want to cut Sela out of their life—yet take her six children away from her and raise them.

Sela is torn between trying to reconcile with her in-laws for her deceased husband’s sake or fight them tooth and nail for her children. Will she be able to make peace with God and her in-laws or will this divide them forever?

I dislike reading books where a death occurs early on, and SHADES OF GRAY begins with Rodney’s death occurring within the first few chapters. I also resent books where white people are automatically the bad guys just because they are not black. So for these issues alone, SHADES OF GRAY was a struggle for me to read. I resented Sela for her racism toward her in-laws, yet I disliked the senior Barnes' for their condensing attitude toward their daughter-in-law.

Ms. Thomas is a talented writer, she has expertly woven a faith message in. The story is character driven so you don’t see much of the setting or any scenery. While Sela is reeling from her husband’s death, she is also fighting her mother-in-law which definitely adds enough conflict to the story. I wondered how Rodney’s and Sela’s marriage survived twenty years with this underlying problem. However, the story does come to a satisfying end, making SHADES OF GRAY worth reading.

Reviewed in April 2006 by Laura.

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