Of Stillness and Storms
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First Person • Single Point of View • Fiction • 336 Pages
About the Book (Backcover Blurb):
“I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing.”
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.
Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.
Why I Choose this Book:
It’s a contemporary about missionaries – specifically struggling missionaries. It sounded intriguing.
What I Thought about this Book:
WARNING: This review contains spoilers!
I literally had no clue what I was getting into. Of Stillness and Storms was gloriously beautiful. Heartbreakingly honest. Terrifyingly real. Horrible, amazing, gripping, totally wrong, and completely spot-on all at once. Each page was one more waving red flag, screaming about the train wreck that was taking place, slowly, one word at a time.
The writing, the storyline, the whole concept, was exceptional. The tension between the main character (Lauren) and her husband’s (Sam) understandings of how God works and the compound effect of those views was expertly told.
Sam. Ugh. He changed so little throughout the book. His idealism at the beginning is basically the same at the end. Only the settings changed. His fierce desire to live largely and his devotion to his own convictions ironically make him appear predictable and stagnant by the end. You just know he isn’t going to change, and Lauren’s palpable frustration is shared. In spite of – perhaps because of – her mistakes, she seems like the most living character in the book, because she’s acting like a real human. Sam’s single-mindedness glazed his vision, and his undoing was when he stopped taking Lauren’s input into whatever equation he was using to find God’s will. He ended up being an absentee control freak – which sounds like an oxymoron, but is so true.
It was intriguing because it’s not easy to tell exactly where everything fell apart. You can see the seeds early on (the book contained large portions of flashbacks), but the only real barometer we have is Lauren’s response. If Lauren and Sam were completely united in their mission, the story would look completely different. What’s disconcerting is that Sam could still be a stubborn control freak and no one might ever know. He would probably look like a great missionary and person to most people, and Lauren’s support would validate that. As it is, our sympathy with Lauren’s humanity cues us that something is off with Sam, and by the end of the book, it is tragically obvious.
This book is by far the best one I’ve ever read in regards to TCKs (Third Culture Kids) and the challenges they go through. I’ve grown up around TCKs, and many of my closest friends are TCKs. Sometimes I feel like one myself. It came to my attention a few years ago (when visiting some missionary friends), how there are so many misunderstandings when it comes to TCKs, and that can be a huge problem.
With my job I have the privilege of hanging out with missionaries a lot. I’ve heard stories that are comparable to this one, but with incredibly beautiful grace and mercy filled endings. I’ve seen how real the issues this book dealt with can be, and how much heartache can spring forth when miscommunications take over. This book handled the topic so vividly that it made me want to recommend it to everyone.
Unfortunately there were some borderline issues in this book – a couple scenes that I’m not comfortable recommending, as well as several words. There were also a couple of places that I couldn’t tell if they were using God’s name in vain or not (you’d have to see the writing style to know why it was confusing), so that was a disappointment. Also, the whole premise is rather disturbing (but, in like a really honest, needed type of way). Therefore I can’t exactly recommend it to everyone. But! Depending on your personal guidelines, you might want to check the book out.
I’m giving Of Stillness and Storms 4 out of 5 stars, and 8 out of 10.
*I received this book free from Litfuse*