Bottom Line: Still Life in Shadows is a sad, moving, very realistic story that convinced me to check out more Alice Wisler books.
Lovers of Amish fiction could read this for a gritty look at the intersection of Amish and English worlds.
Within the bucolic life of the Plain People, how can abuse and despair still flourish like a poisonous plant? Answer: because the Amish are fallen men craving grace like the rest of us, and sometimes parental pride combines with strict religion and drives the children away.
That's what happened to Gideon, almost two decades before. He withstood the oppression of his father as long as he could, and then he escaped.
Now he's a reserved, still-waters-running-deep kind of man working in an auto-repair shop, and on the side he's aiding fellow escapees.
The Getaway Savior. That's what they call him.
It's a heavy title to wear, and a great responsibility to carry. Helping young Amish people transfer to the outside culture requires patience and wisdom.
Gideon can usually summon up both, and he earned them through his own hard experiences. He's just now able to look back on his upbringing and realize that there are some parts he doesn't want to throw away. Even while he lives and moves in the modern world, there are some Amish attitudes that are forever built into his soul. He doesn't hate all of it. Just the pain and the shame and the secrets.
Flitting about on the periphery of his life is a source of joy that he tries hard not to notice. Kiki, a teen girl obsessed with working on her bicycle, and Mari her older sister. Kiki wants a job at the garage and Mari serves the best tea and pie in the state. For a reason he doesn't understand, he begins connecting with both of them, allowing tiny thoughts of Family to slip into his head.
And then his real brother returns. Oh, Moriah. Why?
I love the way that Alice Wisler gave every character's story an inherent dignity. That's important... that each one have their space and let the meanings flow from whatever happens, good or bad. This book is beautiful because most of the action is actually internal, inside Gideon and Mari and Kiki and Luke and Ashlyn and Ormund, and Moriah and Della and Principal Pepper. Depending on their role in the story, you get to see various amounts of their growth and faith and thoughts.
Thabk you MP Newsroom for my copy.
She's the author of Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation (all published by Bethany House) and Still Life in Shadows (River North/Moody). Her devotional is Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache (Leafwood Publishers). Her sixth novel comes out in the fall of 2014, Under the Silk Hibiscus (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas).
Alice went to Eastern Mennonite University after graduating from Canadian Academy, an international high school in Kobe, Japan. She majored in social work and has worked across the U.S. in that field. She taught ESL (English as a Second Language) in Japan and at a refugee camp in the Philippines. She also studied Spanish at a language institute in San Jose, Costa Rica.
She has four children--Rachel, Daniel, Benjamin and Elizabeth. Daniel died on 2/2/97 from cancer treatments at the age of four. Since then, Alice founded Daniel's House Publications in her son's memory. This organization reaches out to others who have also lost a child to death. In 2000 and 2003, Alice compiled recipes and memories of children across the world to publish two memorial cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle. In 2013, she published Memories Around the Table, which holds the recipes and memories of loved ones of all ages.