Sunday, June 7, 2015

On Shifting Sand by Allison Pittman

  ON SHIFTING SAND is the first novel I've read by Allison Pittman.  For anyone who balks at reading Christian fiction thinking the characters or plot are going to be flimsy backdrops for some whiny preaching should pick up ON SHIFTING SANDS.  Oh yes, there is a message and it is powerful, as Nola's story will bring life to the powerful destruction of infidelity and the unbelievable beauty of mercy and forgiveness.  Nola's unfaithfulness seems to rise up out of the dust that permeates every aspect of her life.  Yet it is an ages' old story and almost seems to be something Nola (and her father) knew she would do.

Having watched the Ken Burn's documentary on the Dust Bowl last year (think I actually watched it twice since it was so powerful), I was captivated by the way Pittman made the Dust Bowl setting an essential part of the novel. Everytime Nola's aging father asks,"Is this glass clean?" I could almost taste the grit.  And as Pittman describes the family's struggles to stay clean or the constant need to wash bed and kitchen linens just to sleep or have a meal, I began to sense the mounting hopelessness and fatigue that people felt.  All of that is powerfully transferred via words into Nola's character in the novel.  Nola's neighbor's are leaving daily, turning their small town into a ghost community. Each departure means one less family to support the church where her husband pastors.  Already isolated by her position as a pastor's wife and her past (won't share that), Nola feels lonelier and lonelier.  Fueled by her father's constant criticism, the family's dwindling finances, and the constant "sand" around her, Nola cannot see or appreciate what she has, until she recklessly endangers it all.

Nola tells this story, and we all know that first person narrators are not always reliable.  Even as she is telling the story, you will feel that you want to warn her that she is destroying her life. Sometimes you will question the full truth of what she is sharing.  At other times you will want to comfort her and build her up.  Pittman made an excellent choice in selecting the point of view for this novel; no one could have told us the impact of Nola's actions except Nola herself.

I obtained a copy of this novel through our Winnefox Library System.  Check your library for a copy or it can be obtained through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Christian Books, Family Christian Bookstores, or a local bookstore.  Remember most local bookstores can order almost any book you want, and they would appreciate your business.

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