Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Still Life by Christa Parrish

This novel contains an emotional punch. It gave me much to think about.

The novel starts out with a scene from Christianity gone wrong. The main character, Ada, was born into a fringe religious sect. Just reading about it gave me chills. Ada's father is the leader, The Prophet. He has control and requires complete obedience. Those who attempt to leave are made to show “repentance,” actually nothing more than torture. As a woman, I shuddered at the way women were treated, the clothing they had to wear, the marriages they had to endure. They weren't even allowed to take communion. Since men were the intermediary between God and women, communion had no meaning for women, The Prophet declared. That is just the first issue to think about.

Ada is able to escape the sect when a photographer comes with a journalist who is writing an article on the group. Julian is immediately taken with her and later manages to take her away. He helps her become comfortable with life, like cell phones, computers, and driving. But only a few months into the marriage, Julian dies in a tragic airplane accident. That made me think of the tragedies of life. Julian, a loving and giving Christian, dying way too young.

The whole plane crash becomes thought provoking when I found out the plane had been overbooked. A woman had offered her ticket to him. Julian would be able to get back for Ada's birthday. The woman would have an excuse to spend another night with her lover, an affair her husband and children know nothing about. That caused me to wonder about accidents, providence, and God's sovereignty.

The meat of the novel is what happens to Ada and the immoral woman in the months following, how this event has changed their lives forever. We find out more about Julian, a man Christlike, famous photographer, multi-Pulitzer Prize winner, capturing the reality of life. We find out how damaged people go on with life, hearing from God, trusting in His presence.

I recommend this book because, in addition to a compelling story, it will give you much to think about. Topics like male power in the church, the Christian's response to tragedy, forgiveness, bullying in school – the list goes on and on. This is a very thought provoking novel. There is a Reading Group Guide provided and I can just imagine the discussions that could happen around this book.

Christa Parrish is the author of five novels, including the 2009 ECPA Book of the Year Watch Over Me and the Christy Award-winning Stones for Bread. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, writer and pastor Chris Coppernoll. They have four children in their blended family. Find out more at

Thomas Nelson, 352 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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