Praise for Grace at Low Tide

From Publishers Weekly

“Critics of evangelical novels often talk about the dearth of literary fiction in the Christian market, but this debut from South Carolina native Hart comes close to that coveted adjective. DeVeaux DeLoach’s Daddy has gone belly-up after one too many bad business deals, so the DeLoaches must quit their fancy Charleston digs for a small country cottage. DeVeaux has to pull out of her posh prep school and take a weekend job. Daddy grows progressively meaner throughout the book, screaming at the family, ordering DeVeaux’s mother to get a job and cruelly mocking her plump physique. For her part, Mama is mainly worried that DeVeaux, now old enough to turn men’s heads, remain chaste. DeVeaux is kept afloat by her Christian faith, a cousin and the youth group leader at her church. DeVeaux’s charming narration is the book’s greatest strength—readers will love DeVeaux like a sister by the end—and its greatest weakness, for she’s still an adolescent but sounds implausibly wise for her age. Still, this is a promising novel by a lovely, gifted writer.” (July 14)

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From Booklist *Starred Review*

Like Mick in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, DeVeaux DeLoach is one of those precocious southern girls full of wisdom and charm. She serves as the wry witness when her dad’s investments go sour and his proud family must decamp to their rundown plantation on the South Carolina island of Edisto. Various of Daddy’s schemes to recoup his losses come to nothing, and he grows steadily more abusive; meanwhile, DeVeaux gives up her fancy private school and takes a job, her faith sustaining her. Hart has turned in a fine first novel. Fans of Anne Rivers Siddons and Padgett Powell will warm to it.

- John Mort (July, 2005). Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From The Charlotte Observer

What happens to blue bloods who lose everything after 200 years of prominence and entitlement? Set on a plantation on Edisto Island where the DeLoach family has relocated into a caretaker’s cottage, the book evokes all the charm of the S.C. Lowcountry. The disintegration of this once prominent and wealthy Charleston family is seen through the eyes of the feisty youngest daughter, DeVeaux DeLoach.DeVeaux, 15, must confront her father’s increasingly bizarre behavior, her mother’s religiosity, the disappointments of her siblings and life on the island without any of the privileges and niceties to which she is accustomed. She must also face poverty and “red-neck” customs that are foreign to her. The book is unabashedly about the presence of God in the midst of pain and hopelessness. It is a gentle coming-of-age story with a warm, tender slant.

- Sonia Coffin, for The Observer

From Bret Lott, best selling author of Jewel

“This tender, good-hearted and moving tale of one Charleston girl’s coming-of-age gives us what so many books don’t: a character we can care about. Ms. Hart’s evocation of the ways of Charleston society – both blueblood and redneck alike – is right on target, her evocation of the landscape down here is sure and certain. And of course she’s made certain to include the three most important elements of any worthy Southern story: family, family, and family.”

From CBA Marketplace

Grace at Low Tide, Hart’s first novel, is an aromatic bouillabaisse of Southern manners, island life and God’s redemptive love. Readers who love Oprah’s book picks will find this title in keeping with the best contemporary fiction.”

- Lynn Waalkes, CBA Marketplace

From Marcia Ford, author and reviewer for faithfulreader.com

The first thing you should know about Grace at Low Tide is that it’s a work of literary fiction. The second thing you should know is that it’s a work of Christian literary fiction. And the third thing you should know is that it’s a work that offers further proof that God has not given up on the Christian publishing industry.

In case I haven’t made myself clear, let me do so now: I loved Grace at Low Tide.

The story is told from the perspective of DeVeaux DeLoach, a teenager whose father, Billy, has suffered one business failure too many. His latest debacle has forced the family to move from their fine home in Charleston to a caretaker’s cottage on the grounds of Rose Hill Plantation, which used to be the family plantation. From their new home in the South Carolina low country, the family has a clear view of a multi-million dollar development rising on a nearby island — the very project that did Billy’s business in and sent the family packing for poorer quarters.

If you’ve ever known a bona fide member of pretentious Southern gentility, the name DeVeaux DeLoach just has to make you chuckle inside. Who else would couple the name DeVeaux with DeLoach but an aristocratic wannabe? And one of those wannabes is named Billy! Oh my. I guess you can take the aristocrat out of the Southerner, but you just can’t take the Southerner out of the aristocrat. I love it.

DeVeaux, who has been forced to leave prep school to attend the local high school, now spends her free time waiting tables rather than focusing on those accomplishments that will impress university admissions departments. As the story unfolds, she serves as a highly attached observer as she and her family try to adjust to their deteriorating circumstances. Billy’s way of “adjusting,” however, involves throwing temper tantrums — even less attractive for an adult than for a two-year-old — berating DeVeaux, mocking her mother, and treating those things that the two women love as if it was yesterday’s garbage. Which is exactly what some of those things become.

Now to the factors that make this a distinctly Christian novel and why I hope other Christian authors and publishers will sit up and take notice of what the author has done here. DeVeaux’s faith is evident throughout the book, in what she says, how she thinks, and what she does, such as attend youth group meetings in Charleston despite the difficulty she sometimes has in getting there. (An aside: There’s a brand-new car she could use, but Billy refuses to let anyone, including himself, drive it. The car was a gift, and his pride can’t handle that.) What sets Beth Webb Hart apart from many other evangelical authors is her subtle and graceful handling of DeVeaux’s faith. There’s never the slightest hint of preachiness in this faith-rich story.

Orbiting the DeLoaches’ lives are a number of well-drawn characters, like DeVeaux’s Cousin Eli, who helps her retain her sanity; the Shuzuki family, who bought Rose Hill and are in the process of renovating it; Maum Bess, Billy’s childhood nanny, and her son Chambers, who live nearby; Bethany, the youth group leader; C.C., with whom DeVeaux has her first official date; and several other human characters. But among the leading characters in Grace at Low Tide is the South Carolina low country, which serves as far more than simply a backdrop to the story.

Hart, the author of this debut novel, is a creative writing teacher and my nominee for Writing Teacher of the Year. I don’t know if she teaches at writers’ conferences, but I certainly hope so. In fact, I think some of our bestselling Christian novelists ought to be forced to spend a week under her mentorship. This woman is so talented that I’m ready to travel to Charleston so I can take in a few sessions with her.

From Christian Book Previews.com

Grace at Low Tide is refreshing! This novel takes the principles of Christianity and places them in a contemporary and contradictory setting. The result is a book that realistically demonstrates the power of God’s love.

DeVeaux, a teenage girl, is the main character and the voice in this story. Because of some business decisions made by her father, her family had to leave their aristocratic home and move into a caretaker’s cottage on Edisto Island. Although they had been physically relocated, the more serious adjustments came when DeVeaux’s family had to accept their new station in life. No longer were they the wealthy Charleston bluebloods. These pages chronicle the real battles each member of this family faces, and it’s all filtered through the mind and heart of a special young woman.

This is the type of book that readers won’t want to end! The seemingly effortlessness, but very perceptive writing of this author leads readers ever deeper into the thoughts of DeVeaux. The plot pulsates with the agonizing question of “Where is God in all of this?” Today’s society would classify this family as dysfunctional, and readers will be astonished at the hurts and heartaches that threaten to pull them apart.

Yet, there is also an underlying current of hope that surfaces and struggles to succeed. No place on earth is without the still, small voice of God, and Edisto Island is no exception. DeVeaux waits and watches for the Lord to intervene, and when He does, it is with a cascade of mercy.

The author generously uses the setting and the diversity of characters to illustrate the timeless truths of mercy and grace. There is a strong sense of family within these pages, and readers will gain a renewed appreciation for their own loved ones.

Grace at Low Tide follows the occasionally circuitous course of Christianity that always leads back to the heart of God.”

- Joyce Handzo, Christian Book Previews.com

From Allison Strobel, author of Worlds Collide

Grace at Low Tide is the beautiful story of the power one young woman’s faith can have. Beth Webb Hart perfectly captures the voice of a girl wizened too early by hardship, yet still essentially a teen at heart. Her struggle to find her way both within her family and out in the world will have you aching to see her succeed, and the lush setting of Southern island life is an education in an existence most of us will never encounter. A warm, wonderful book I’ll eagerly pass around to my friends.”


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