Bottom Line: Still Life in Shadows is a sad, moving, very realistic story that convinced me to check out more Alice Wisler books.
Lovers of Amish fiction could read this for a gritty look at the intersection of Amish and English worlds.
Within the bucolic life of the Plain People, how can abuse and despair still flourish like a poisonous plant? Answer: because the Amish are fallen men craving grace like the rest of us, and sometimes parental pride combines with strict religion and drives the children away.
That's what happened to Gideon, almost two decades before. He withstood the oppression of his father as long as he could, and then he escaped.
Now he's a reserved, still-waters-running-deep kind of man working in an auto-repair shop, and on the side he's aiding fellow escapees.
The Getaway Savior. That's what they call him.
It's a heavy title to wear, and a great responsibility to carry. Helping young Amish people transfer to the outside culture requires patience and wisdom.
Gideon can usually summon up both, and he earned them through his own hard experiences. He's just now able to look back on his upbringing and realize that there are some parts he doesn't want to throw away. Even while he lives and moves in the modern world, there are some Amish attitudes that are forever built into his soul. He doesn't hate all of it. Just the pain and the shame and the secrets.
Flitting about on the periphery of his life is a source of joy that he tries hard not to notice. Kiki, a teen girl obsessed with working on her bicycle, and Mari her older sister. Kiki wants a job at the garage and Mari serves the best tea and pie in the state. For a reason he doesn't understand, he begins connecting with both of them, allowing tiny thoughts of Family to slip into his head.
And then his real brother returns. Oh, Moriah. Why?
I love the way that Alice Wisler gave every character's story an inherent dignity. That's important... that each one have their space and let the meanings flow from whatever happens, good or bad. This book is beautiful because most of the action is actually internal, inside Gideon and Mari and Kiki and Luke and Ashlyn and Ormund, and Moriah and Della and Principal Pepper. Depending on their role in the story, you get to see various amounts of their growth and faith and thoughts.
"Fifteen years ago Gideon Miller ran away from an Amish life that seemed perfect. But it held a childhood secret he could not leave behind.
Gideon, now an auto mechanic in Twin Branches, North Carolina, helps Amish youth relocate to modern society, earning him the nickname the "Getaway Savior." When Kiki, an autistic teen, enters his shop wanting a job, Gideon struggles to accept her although he's infatuated with her sister Mari. Furthermore, a surprise visit from his younger brother, Moriah, forces Gideon to realize that his need God's forgiveness is far greater than he anticipated."
This was a good book, although very emotional. With the main characters dealing with different issues about their parents, an autistic teen dealing with bullies, and a young man close to the characters wasting his life on drugs, I would not recommend this book to any youngsters. And there is a murder mystery and some racism in this book as well.
However, there are upsides. There are some very funny characters and good morals in this story, as well as the important lesson of forgiveness. I also enjoyed all of the information about Amish life and there are two recipes in the back of the book that are some of the characters favorites.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and will recommend it to those of you that like a "sort-of-mysterious-and-sweet-ending" book!
"I received this book from Moody Publishers for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are my own."
Gideon Miller doesn't have a lot of answers to life hard questions. But one thing he's absolutely sure about, is that the Amish life is not for him. Fifteen years after leaving home, he works at an auto shop and helps many young people make the transition from being Amish to the real world. Wanting to get them away from the strict lifestyle and potentially bad home situations, Gideon does everything in his power to get them on their feet.
When a autistic teenager come to the shop looking for work, Gideon is at a loss for what to do with her. Kiki seems to be a handful, and despite Gideon's attraction to her older sister Mari, he is reluctant to hire Kiki and take responsibility for her.
Then his brother, Moriah, makes an appearance at the shop. Gideon wants to help his brother, but when things take a turn for the worse, Gideon finds himself unable to help his brother. Fighting the demons of the past, Gideon has nowhere to turn. Will he be able to resolve the hurt of the past - or is it just too late?
The only thing I felt was missing from this book was more resolution at the end. It was a wonderful novel, but the end felt rushed and unresolved. There was lots of anticipation and tension between the characters, but then the plot just fizzled out. I enjoyed this novel a lot, but I just wish there would have been more instead of cutting it short. While I enjoy a story that move along and doesn't drag; realistically, I don't want it to fly by after all the great buildup with the story and characters.
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.
All kids must decide for themselves one day if they're going to follow what their parents taught them. It's natural and it happens to everyone. Now, what happens if that teen is Amish? From the perspective of an ex-Amish, what must we look like? Does it look like we have everything we could wish for? Do they come out of their communities with unreasonable expectations? Now, throw in temptations we all face, and you'll have the premise of this story.
This book touches on a vast array of issues. Intolerance from both sides. Bigotry. Autism. Harsh discipline. Love. Empathy. Compassion.
Still life in Shadows is definitely a unique perspective on the Amish life. Among the many genres of Christian fiction that I read is Amish fiction. In most Amish fiction novels, their lifestyle is depicted as unyielding on the one extreme, but overall as an enjoyable simpler lifestyle. It is generalized frequently that the popularity of Amish fiction is due to readers using it as a form of escapism. Still Life in Shadows, however, shines a light on the fact that, just like every other lifestyle or religious choice available - there are people for whom an Amish lifestyle fits, and people for whom it does not. The main character, Gideon, has chosen to escape that lifestyle, and to help others escape from it. Additionally, the novel points out that anger and abuse can surface in even the most peaceful of societies - which is why Gideon made his choice to leave. The author also chose to cover the subtopics of autism and hoarding within the confines of this novel. All of these topics are handled with care and respect.
Unlike most Amish fiction novels I feel this one would appeal to both men and women. It isn't an action novel, and there is a love story there, but it is handled in the male point of view and in a realistic manner (in other words, full of natural road blocks and confusion).