It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing.
At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.
GENRE: Contemporary Fiction
PUBLISHER: Thomas Nelson
RELEASE DATE: December 6, 2016
“I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing.”
Of Stillness and Storm is one of those books that embeds itself deep in your soul, the kind of story that rolls around in your heart long after you’ve finished reading it. It’s sobering and raw and heartbreaking, yet even in the despair there is hope and goodness.
Michèle Phoenix has created characters and settings and situations so vivid that you feel as though you are there in Kathmandu with them. You experience Lauren’s anger, Aiden’s desperation, and Ryan’s angry desperation. You also want to step through the pages of the book and shake some sense into Sam who proves to be a piety doppelganger to St. John Rivers from Jane Eyre. There are moments where you will grit your teeth in frustration, others where you will wince in disbelief. Still other moments will leave you gasping in stunned horror and groping for that box of tissues you should have kept handy!
And yet … in the midst of those storms, comes a stillness. The peace that ushers in is palpable, the difference noticeable. Interestingly – poignantly, poetically – the stillness brings its own set of storms. And though there are dangers to be carefully navigated within the stillness, and though mistakes are made, it’s here in the stillness that we see a life redeemed from the pit. Not on the mission field where a father’s “calling” threatens to destroy every last fiber of his family’s faith, hope, and love. But in online messages sent to a hurting friend from a hurting friend.
I’m still not completely sure how I feel about the storyline between Lauren and Aiden (in many ways it reminded me of Ethan Frome) but I said at the outset of this review that Of Stillness and Storm is a book that rolls around in your heart for awhile. And I can say this with certainty – After reading this beautifully penned novel, you will (hopefully) never see missionary families the same way again. Especially missionary kids who are so often overlooked in the shuffle. Maybe that means your prayers for them will be different. Maybe you’ll think about these families, these kids, more often and petition God on their behalf when you do. Maybe you’ll ask if there’s anything they need and you won’t mean just the peanut butter they can’t get there.
Bottom Line: Of Stillness and Storm by Michèle Phoenix is haunting and poetic and not a book you can easily walk away from. It’s a cautionary tale and a riveting story, all at once. I’m still reacting to a lot of it, to be honest. In my spirit. In my gut. In my heart. Wanting to hug some characters close. Wanting to shake some sense into others. This is not a book to be read lightly but it’s one with the power to heal and the power to prevent. Which, really, is the best kind of fiction.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / Riveting!
Born in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michèle Phoenix is a consultant, writer and speaker with a heart for Third Culture Kids. She taught for 20 years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own advocacy venture under Global Outreach Mission. Michèle travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, Marvel movies and paths to healing.
Other Books by Michèle Phoenix
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