Thursday, March 5

Book Review: Still Life by Christa Parrish

Still Life by Christa Parrish is a story about how small choices can change our lives. It's also a story about fallout - after a world famous photojournalist dies in a plane crash, two women's lives are sent reeling. One is his young widow, Ada, who followed her heart out a fundamentalist Christian sect to marry him and isn't sure she can survive alone in his world. The other is Katherine, the woman who gave him her ticket - so she could spend one more night with her lover before returning home to her family.

Parrish uses third person point of view to describe Julian's courtship of Ada and the aftermath of the plane crash that took his life. Ada feels overwhelmed and ill-equipped with suddenly having to deal with adult choices. Katherine is drowning in guilt and confusion as her husband and teenage sons welcome her home and thank God she's alive. Katherine's teenage son, Evan, is dealing with both the death of his idol, Julian, and with discovering his mother's infidelity. It's inevitable that their worlds will collide, and as the book progresses readers see just how connected we all really are.

I was drawn to Still Life because the premise was really interesting to me - I have to admit, I am oddly fascinated by cults, and the way in which Ada mustered the courage to leave her father, the self-described prophet, but couldn't quite shake the worldview she'd learned from him, seemed very realistic. I was proud of Ada each time she took a step outside of her comfort zone and just wanted to give her a hug when she felt despair. On the other hand, adultery is usually an automatic reason for me not to read a book or see a movie, but Christa Parrish was able to make me feel sympathetic for control-freak Katherine. I do wish that Parrish had shown more of the work Katherine and her husband Will had to do to restore their marriage - we see Katherine making the decision to turn her back on a passionate love affair, and counseling is mentioned, but it's obviously still a work in progress.

Overall, Still Life is one of the most spiritually-centered Christian books I have read. In many Christian romance novels, the characters will pray about a decision and that's about it. Throughout Still Life, Ada, Katherine, and Evan struggle to understand and define their relationships with faith, and Julian is the anchor - a model of strong, dedicated belief in Christ. I really loved that Julian got to know Jesus in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship because I was an IV member in college, too! While the story covers difficult ground with grief, disloyalty, and jealousy, there's also hope on every page.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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