Monday, April 13, 2015

On Shifting Sand by Allison Pittman--Review

Long before anyone would christen it “The Dust Bowl,” Nola Merrill senses the destruction. She’s been drying up bit by bit since the day her mother died, leaving her to be raised by a father who withholds his affection the way God keeps a grip on the Oklahoma rain. A hasty marriage to Russ, a young preacher, didn’t bring the escape she desired. Now, twelve years later with two children to raise, new seeds of dissatisfaction take root.
When Jim, a mysterious drifter and long-lost friend from her husband’s past, takes refuge in their home, Nola slowly springs to life under his attentions until a single, reckless encounter brings her to commit the ultimate betrayal of her marriage. For months Nola withers in the wake of the sin she so desperately tries to bury. Guilt and shame consume her physically and spiritually, until an opportunity arises that will bring the family far from the drought and dust of Oklahoma. Or so she thinks. As the storms follow, she is consumed with the burden of her sin and confesses all, hoping to find Russ’s love strong enough to stand the test.
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Q&A with Allison Pittman
Author of On Shifting Sand
About the Author…Award-winning author Allison Pittman has penned more than twelve novels, including her series set in the Roaring Twenties—All for a Song, All for a Story, and All for a Sister. Allison resides in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, Mike, their three sons, and the canine star of the family—Stella. Visit her at

1. What inspired you to write On Shifting Sand?
This is always the hardest question to answer. I loved writing about the dynamics of marriage with my Sister Wife series. But then, a story of a marriage needs conflict, and I’ve yet to see a CBA novel really tackle the idea of adultery in a way that showed it to be a conscientious, willful sin, disassociated from the circumstances of the marriage, or the relationship between the husband and wife. Too often, it was a backstory to justify a divorced character. Or it was a series of close calls, but never fully realized. I wanted to portray it as sin. Pure and simple, but unique in the fact that it reaches beyond the sinner, and carries with it a risk in confession. And then, I wanted to write a story that follows through a journey of restoration—not simply coming back to Christ, but coming back to life. It took a bit for all the pieces to come together, and so many of them weren’t discovered until I was buried in the story. More than any of my books, inspiration for this story came bit by bit.

2. The story is written from the perspective of Nola Merrill, who finds herself in an adulterous relationship. Why did you decide to write the
story from the perspective of an unreliable narrator?
I think we are all unreliable narrators in our own lives, especially when it comes to facing our sin. We justify our sin, proclaim ourselves victims, assign blame and downplay responsibility. We can bury ourselves so deeply in guilt, we’re blind to the idea of redemption, so we ignore what God tells us about confession and grace and mercy. We lie to ourselves the same way Nola lies to herself—and, thereby, to the readers. I have no doubt this character will make readers uncomfortable. She made me uncomfortable. They are going to be
frustrated with her choices, disappointed by her actions, but I’m OK with that. I think Nola is the realest character I’ve ever created.

My thoughts: Stuck in a deep pit of dirt and filth and nothingness in the dust bowl of Oklahoma. Nola feels she has no purpose in life, no meaning. She is trapped in this awful place feeling alone and useless. Can She get past the sin and see God's love and forgiveness or will she slip away, just like the dust in the Oklahoma air.

As I read this book I struggled through the whole thing, trying to decide if I liked it. I knew I couldn't stop reading it. Wanting to read it everyday to see what was happening. So, why was it I couldn't say definitely that I liked or even loved the book? I have decided that it is because the book is written in the first person. I felt the book was too one sided for the subject matter. I read the author's explanation of this in the back of the book and I understood completely why she wrote it the way she did, but it just didn't work for me. My personal opinion is that the secondary characters (especially Russ, the husband) should have had a bigger part in telling the story. I really felt like I needed to see more of how her husband felt and responded to the situation not just her feelings about it. The writing is done very well and I did enjoy the book to a point but, I just couldn't fall in love with it, as I have books in the past. I am still very interested in reading other books from this author. I was in no way turned off by this book, it just wasn't the right fit for me. I encourage you to read it for yourself and make up your own mind.

I received this book through the Tyndale Blogger Network in exchange for my review. I was not required to give a positive review.

1 comment:

  1. You did a wonderful job reviewing this book. The way you put it doesn't turn me away from it, it simply makes me curious about whether I would enjoy the book myself or not. I haven't read anything by this author before but I think the story line sounds interesting.


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