Title: From Sand and Ash
Series: Stand-alone Novel
Author: Amy Harmon
Release Date: December 1, 2016

Italy, 1943—Germany occupies much of the country, placing the Jewish population in grave danger during World War II.
As children, Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco were raised like family but divided by circumstance and religion. As the years go by, the two find themselves falling in love. But the church calls to Angelo and, despite his deep feelings for Eva, he chooses the priesthood.
Now, more than a decade later, Angelo is a Catholic priest and Eva is a woman with nowhere to turn. With the Gestapo closing in, Angelo hides Eva within the walls of a convent, where Eva discovers she is just one of many Jews being sheltered by the Catholic Church.
But Eva can’t quietly hide, waiting for deliverance, while Angelo risks everything to keep her safe. With the world at war and so many in need, Angelo and Eva face trial after trial, choice after agonizing choice, until fate and fortune finally collide, leaving them with the most difficult decision of all.
 From Sand and Ash is a harrowing story of love and faith shrouded in death and despair. Amy Harmon brings together the best and the worst of humanity on these pages, paving this journey with violence and bravery, horror and love. It's a ruthless barrage of emotions, this story, a relentless war between life and death, between good and evil, illustrated exquisitely by an author whose writing prowess knows no bounds. I was torn between eagerly unearthing the twists and turns that would surely come with each turn of the page, and dreading what was to come, dreading this book ending at all. The story of Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco is as enchanting as it is chilling. The love they share is forbidden, both by duty and by law. But their attraction, the absolute truth of their lifelong love is a beautiful, palpable thing that consumes the reader despite the horrific circumstances in which that love exists.

I've read many books of the true accounts of holocaust survivors, seen the movies and documentaries, taken classes concentrating on this area of study. But never before have I been made to fall in love with an individual, with a couple, with a family, before I took such a horrific journey with them. To feel as though you know their strength, to get to know their life up until the moment it is stolen away, to know their helplessness in the face of something so unjust and so terrifying, it changes the way you look at the world, to see such atrocities through their eyes. This may be a fictionalized account inspired by true events, but you won't convince my heart Eva and Angelo aren't real. This story weaves it's way under your skin and into your soul so you feel every step of their journey, of their fight, of this miracle. It's both beautiful and tortuous what Amy Harmon does here, but it's so right. It's so important. We don't truly know fear and loss and hopelessness until we take this journey ourselves. Opening this book, turning these pages, moving along with Eva and Angelo is taking the journey ourselves.

This is absolutely a story of survival and love. But, more, From Sand and Ash is a poignant reminder of where we all come from, that no matter where we live or who we pray to or what we believe in, we all come from the same place. We are all made of the same things. We all seek joy, we all look to find purpose. We all love and play and pray and laugh and hope, and we all just want to be understood. Above all else, we just want to be understood. That message screamed at me on every page, in every word. Our world would be such a beautiful, peaceful, harmonious one if we sought to understand each other instead of judging each other for the ways we are different, for the God we pray to, for where each of our trees first took root. The Law of Moses taught me that we should be celebrating our differences instead of being afraid to point them out, to label them. From Sand and Ash takes that sentiment and drives it home in a way that simply can't be ignored. It's a brutal demonstration of what comes when we stop trying to understand each other, when we stop trying to relate, when we take what makes us different and use it as a means to divide us, to hurt each other, to push each other away. We need this message. We need this book. We need this reminder that when we refuse to learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it.

I'm asked often what book has changed my life. I can't say I've ever had a clear answer. I've read books I've loved, I've read books that have made me see things in ways I never have before, I've read books I'll never forget. But From Sand and Ash is a life changing book. This book will change the way you go forward by forcing you to go back. It'll change your heart, it'll change your mind, it'll make you seek to understand rather than condemn. It'll make you choose to see the good where there seems to be only darkness. It'll remind you that we're all the same where it matters, that we've all come from the same place regardless of where we're going. It'll inspire you to be better.  It'll demand you pay closer attention to the opportunities to do something important. It will humble you, empower you, it'll strengthen your awareness of your world, your history, your place in it. You can't read this book and not come away changed.

From Sand and Ash is a rich work of art, a stunning masterpiece that has moved me, altered me, captivated me.  It'll take your breath away, it'll break your heart in ways it's never been broken before, it'll leave you speechless. I was overcome with so much emotion while reading this brutally beautiful story. I was painfully terrified. I was both angered and uplifted, both defeated and empowered, broken yet healed. These characters, this fictionalized truth swathed in Harmon's unparalleled storytelling and her breathtaking writing style make for an epic story of bravery, love, resilience and loss that is both haunting and heartwarming all at once. As long as I live, I will carry this story with me. 

Jessica's Rating:

Amy Harmon is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Amy knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in twelve countries, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.

Amy Harmon has written ten novels - the USA Today Bestsellers, Making Faces and Running Barefoot, as well as The Law of Moses, The Song of David, Infinity + One, Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, and the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue. 


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