Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Review of Surviving the Stillness, by Jessica White

Surviving the Stillness, by Jessica White, is the story of two orphans in Montana struggling to make it through the winter while the elder keeps a dark secret from her new friend, the doctor's son. It's a story of love and survival and the way that trust and faith in God can heal the hearts of those who reach out to Him in their time of need.

Abigail must learn to trust before she can heal her own broken life, and Matthew (the doctor's son) must learn that God has not abandoned him and has been there all along, waiting for his perfect timing in the Masons' lives. The orphans will change the lives of Dr. Mason and his son Matthew for good, if the doctor and his son can let them.

The author of Surviving the Stillness (Jessica White) is a friend of mine, and she provided me with a free paperback copy of this book to read and review. When I received the book, it was nothing like what I had expected. Not only was it longer (over 400 pages) than what I'd been anticipating, but the beauty of the prose and the speed with which this novel sucked me in astonished me.

In so many ways, Surviving the Stillness simply blew away my expectations of the book. Without knowing what to expect, I could never have anticipated the artful way in which the author uses a series of flash backs to illustrate the main female character's history to the reader. Abigail's secrets come to light one at a time, leaving the reader wondering what she's experienced to make her so closed off to people, but to bring her so close to God.

Abigail and Matthew are both well-developed characters. The author has paid close attention to making sure that they are three-dimensional and realistic. Both characters are beautifully flawed but in possession of incredible talents, which they use to build the story and to express the ultimate point of the book: That God will help you through anything that life throws at you.

While the editing (particularly in the latter half of the book) leaves something to be desired, the author has done well to avoid many common copyediting nightmares (such as passive voice and improper use of being verbs) and apart from a few mis-placed commas, the book flows well from the style and grammar perspective. I found it easy to read without becoming distracted or bogged down by editing mistakes. 

The author has assured me she plans to hire a professional copy editor for the next book in the series. 

This book is written beautifully, but should be a relatively easy read for young adult through adult readers. If you enjoy Christian fiction, this is an easy but serious read that will keep you turning the page. I had to put it down a few times because of the heavy nature of the book, but some people may find that they can handle the more serious themes of the novel without worrying about needing to take breaks.

As always, I want to point out what parents might want to think about when considering giving this book to their teenage children.

  • It's heavy. The main themes of the books are heavy. It takes a certain type of person to be able to understand what Abigail has experienced in the time since her parents died, and this subject material may be difficult for some younger readers to understand. This is more apt to affect enjoyment of the book than it is to traumatize your children.
  • It's religious. If you have a particular religion you're raising your children with or you don't wish them raised with religion at all, you may wish to review this novel before passing it on to your children. The orphanage that is the central location in the plot is a Catholic orphanage.
I personally believe that this book is acceptable for all age groups.

This book is a good read for lovers of Christian fiction and need an inspirational pick-me-up. The novel itself is mostly non-denominational and emphasizes trust in God rather than pressing a particular denominational belief system. If you are a believer, this book should inspire you. When I read it, it was just what I needed!

Yes! I will be eagerly awaiting the next book in the series!

What are your thoughts on Surviving the Stillness? How does it compare to other Christian novels? What did you enjoy about it?

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