30 January 2015

Review: Still Life by Christa Parrish

In Two Minds

I’m not sure what I think about this book. It had good points and not-so-good points, aspects which worked for me and some which didn’t. The story follows two main characters: Ada, whose husband has just been killed in a plane crash, and Katherine, who gave up her seat on the flight so Julian could get home in time to celebrate Ada’s birthday … and so she could spend another day with her lover.

The main character, Ada, grew up in a stifling fundamentalist sect (I’d hesitate to call it Christian, as it didn’t appear to offer any of the grace of the gospel, merely the fear of punishment). Her sections feel distant, which feels odd at first because we don’t really understand why she is distant, and why she seems to have no friends and know so little about anything. It’s hard to understand why, although this does become clearer as the story progresses (mostly through the use of flashbacks).

Still Life has an original yet intriguing plot with lot of interweaving between the two main plot lines. The characters are interesting, with more faults and idiosyncrasies than normally seen in Christian fiction—with the possible exception of Julian, who seems to be a candidate for sainthood. The Christian message was understated, yet definitely there, and the title was a play on words on several levels, which become clearer as the novel progresses.

All of these things usually combine to a book I love, yet I didn’t love Still Life. I’m not sure why not. I think it’s because I didn’t relate to Ada and I didn’t understand how she came to be married to Julian (and even when this became clear, I wasn’t convinced). Her voice was authentic to her upbringing and personality, but it made it difficult to truly engage with her, and therefore, made it difficult for me to engage with the story as a whole.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Christa Parrish at her website.

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