I Can Fly Publishing, 0970984111, $13.95
Mahogany Malone was named for her mother's favorite dancer, and one may argue that this teenage namesake is also a dancer. Mahogany dances through her youth with reckless abandon, easily rejecting her mother's rules and Christian beliefs in favor of an intimate pas de deux with handsome college student Steve Genere. A fight with her mother soon sends Mahogany tap-dancing into her forbidden boyfriend's arms, spiraling into the consequences of decisions that will shape her life for years to come.
Skip ahead a few years, and Mahogany's post-college life appears no different from the one she lived in high school. Though her relationship with her mother has somewhat healed, Mahogany's view of Mama Malone's unwavering faith in God is unchanged. Life as a Christian is hardly high on her list of priorities, as Mahogany is more concerned with finding the perfect job, man, and home - not necessarily in that order. Despite the prayers of her mother and best friend Jennifer, it does not occur to Mahogany that Jesus could be that man. Instead Mahogany's dance history repeats itself as an entanglement with her married boss puts her in an unenviable situation, one which leads to yet another bad decision.
Through the Storm is the story of Mahogany's journey to maturity, a process that comes not only from the mistakes made but what is learned from those mistakes. In her debut novel, Sha' Givens frames a traditional story of sin and redemption with strong female characters. Stubborn Mahogany's constant clashes with her tough-as-nails mother are the book's strength and provide a realistic slant to this story. Chance encounters with various "angels" experienced at points of great stress in Mahogany's life also lend an undercurrent of faith and offer bright spots to Mahogany's otherwise dim view of life.
Author Givens, according to one bio, is a sought-after motivational speaker and Christian evangelist, and Through the Storm is but one of the tools provided through her ministry to help others examine the benefits of spiritual treasures as opposed to the material ones Mahogany seeks. A powerful debut story, Givens does not sugercoat Mahogany's life. It is a struggle, as the reader will see, yet through Christ the end result is very satisfying.