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STILL LIFE by CHRISTA PARRISH REVIEWED

Still Life
Christa Parrish
Published by Thomas Nelson
ISBN#978-1-4016-8903-2
342 Pages

Back Cover: Ada escaped her family’s self-enclosed world to elope with a mysterious stranger. Five months later, she’s a widow in a strange new world.
Ada was born into a fringe religious sect named for her father, The Prophet. But her lifelong habit of absolute obedience was shattered when she fled the family compound to elope with photographer Julian Goetz.

Katherine Walker’s marriage was a sham. She and Will rarely spoke without yelling—and never touched. Her affair brings her both escape and guilt.

When a tragic plane crash takes Julian from Ada and exacerbates Katherine’s sense of shame, both women become desperately unsure of where they belong in the world—until the devotion of an artistic young boy conspires to bring them together.

From award-winning novelist Christa Parrish, Still Life is a cunningly complex work that captures themes of abusive religion, supernatural love, and merciful escape. It will resonate with anyone who has ever felt called to a drastic change—or tried to hear the small whisper of God’s voice.

Review: The thing I look forward to when I read this authors’ books is to expect the unexpected situation and unique cast of characters. Christa is a deep thinker; no fluff in her books, which usually include a full range of emotions and depth that have surprised me and touched me to the core of my being just like this novel did.

Tears running down my cheeks as I read, my throat tight with emotion and feelings of hope started to well up inside of me for Ada and others like her who have just awakened to a whole new reality and have asked God some tough questions about their life experiences. My heart ached for young Evan and I smiled when he sat down and asked a Pastor why? “There has to be a reason.”  He had to know.

“Oh, yes, there’s a reason, “He tells Evan. “There are a million reasons. But none of them matter one single iota unless you can fall on Jesus, wrap your arms around his neck, and weep.”
“I don’t know what that means. “
“It means hope isn’t an explanation. It’s a person.”
 Amen! Amen!

This book is written in four parts. The first is titled The Wreckage – author introduces Ada Mitchell and the lies she was taught were truth growing up. Then the woman becomes Ada Goetz, wife of Julian Goetz Pulitzer prize winning photographer. They’d been married 5 months, when the plane crashed, not time to know each other well. Life’s turned on end. Ada is trying to get her balance; courage to walk in this unfamiliar world and learn to breathe in the storm.

Then readers meet Katherine Walker. The plane crash shook her world up and truth sprinkled out. She couldn’t do life like she had been. She couldn’t live a lie. She’s been given a chance at life – she wants a do-over. She was going to make this time count.

Second part titled Julian Goetz – Flash Back to who Julian was and what he did before he got on the plane.

Third is titled Evan, who is the son of Katherine Walker– special needs boy with heart issues – flashes back to time spent in hospitals with his parents. Now seeks answers to tough questions.

Fourth is titled Chroma. Written first person in current time. Readers are brought up to speed with Ada and how she is coping after the funeral.

“Ada like a 4 year old, navigating this thing called death, with all its traditions and requirements. When someone passed away in her community, it’s a pine box and 4 men with pick axes and shovels digging a hole by night fall. How much more complicated it is here.”

This author does an excellent job in showing how our life’s count, and how we affect one another. God never meant for us to live it alone. If we stop and listen we can here God say (in the middle of turmoil like this cast is in) - follow me – I've got this!” 

This is an emotionally charged story that gets under your skin and camps out in your heart with this authors’ unique story telling style.  It’s uncomfortable and hard to read in parts (not sure what going to happen next) these two women Ada and Katherine come from very different worlds and have to make hard choices after the crash. The thing they had in common was how their encounter with Julian and his God profoundly changed them.

This is a haunting slice of life story everyone hopes they don’t have to experience. This novel deals with tough topics we don’t often talk about, spiritual abuse, chronically sick children, affairs, plane crash, forgiveness, death and permission to ask God hard questions even when there aren’t answers. This book is edgy but clean in how they talk about the affair, the message pulls readers toward faith. This is done in a natural; non-pushy way.

This is a brilliant fascinating story, gritty, real and one that will captivate all your senses. I highly recommend this book for book clubs. The author has engaging discussion questions in the back. I highly recommend you read this book for fun. Clear out some time you’ll be up late reading this one. It’s a keeper!

I received a review copy from Book Look

Nora St Laurent
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