Saturday, 17 January 2015

Review: Still Life by Christa Parrish

A tragic plane crash. One woman who lost her husband. Another who gave up her seat for him.

Adah spent her first twenty-five years with her family as part of a fringe religious sect. Her only contact with the outside world was through customers at their farm store. Then she met Julian, a photojournalist who'd come to document their lifestyle. They eloped mere days later and Adah was thrust into a completely new life as a wife, city-dweller, and an individual allowed to make her own decisions. But she has no idea who she is.

On her twenty-sixth birthday, Julian plans to fly home from an assignment to give her her first-ever birthday present. He's thrilled when Katherine Cramer gives up her seat so he can make the flight. But the plane crashes and everyone on board is killed, including Julian.

Adah is completely at a loss, with no friends and no marketable skills. When Julian's last photographs are published, her life errupts into chaos. She begins travelling--with Julian's camera for a companion--searching for answers to who she is and what she really wants.

Meanwhile, Katherine must live with the knowledge of "why "she gave up her seat--to extend her affair one more night. She recognizes her survival as a second chance to save her marriage. But is it too late?

When Adah's and Katherine's paths cross, they discover that there's still life ahead for both of them.

Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: January 27th 2015 by Thomas Nelson

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Thomas Nelson via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is January 27th 2015.

I literally just set this book down and I am wondering if it is a good idea to pen my thoughts right away or if I should put some space between expressing my opinion.  If I have to describe how I feel about it at this moment it would be frustrated.

The concept of the story was really good as it alternated between Adah and Katherine's stories.  Both woman are living with the aftermath of a tragic accident.  One as the wife left behind and the other as the woman who gave up her seat to someone else.  Independently both stories were well written and interesting.  I found myself particularly drawn to Adah's story.

Where the story went downhill for me was the overdose of religion and spirituality in this story.  It sneaks up on you.  Not really evident at first until it reaches the point that you want to skip pages so that it can get back to the plot.  At first it was ok.  Since Adah had essentially escaped from a "religious" cult it actually made sense and this aspect of her life interested me.  By the second half of the book almost every character was referencing religious passages and to be honest it just didn't seem realistic.  A fourteen year old boy who has never bothered with the bible doesn't all of a sudden start sharing it with others.  Yes it can happen over time however it does not happen instantly

While I am not opposed to religion in the stories I read I do feel it has to be done a certain way.  It can't be forced upon the reader and to be honest it felt forced in this story.  It actually seemed surplus to the story in many ways and therefore made it distracting.  If it would have been limited to Julien's beliefs It would have had a much larger impact.

So here I am conflicted.  What essentially could have been a really compelling story ended up being a story that got lost with all of the surplus script.  On the flip side it was a moving story about learning how to carry on after the loss of a loved one.

Fans of Christian fiction may enjoy this read and although I have read a lot of Christian fiction I simply found this a little too much for me.  It just wasn't quite as advertised.

About the Author     
Christa Parrish is the award-winning author of four novels and founder of Breaking the Sea Ministries. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, pastor and writer Chris Coppernoll, and they have four children in their blended family. When not writing, she is creative director of Concentric, a contemporary "arts-based" worship service, co-leads her church's youth ministry, and produces a weekly radio show. She's at work on her fifth novel, and is now also slightly obsessed with baking wild yeast bread.

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