It's been fifteen years since Gideon Miller ran away from his Amish community in Carlisle, Pennsylvania as a boy of fifteen. Gideon arrives in the Smoky Mountains town of Twin Branches and settles in at the local auto mechanic's garage. He meets a host of interesting characters -the most recent acquaintances are Kiki, an autistic teen, and her sister Mari. Known as the "Getaway Savior" he helps other Amish boys and girls relocate to life in modern America. One day the phone rings. On the other end is his brother Moriah calling from Florida. Of course Gideon welcomes his brother to stay with him and offers him a job. But Moriah is caught in a web which ends in his death and forces Gideon to return to the town of his youth, with his brother's body in the back of a hearse and Mari and Kiki at his side. He must face not only the community he ran away from years ago but also his own web of bitterness. Will he be able to give his anger over to God and forgive his father?
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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).
I am naturally drawn to historical, rather than contemporary fiction, but I made an exception for Still Life in Shadows. I'm so glad I did. Alice Wisler created one of the most engrossing story worlds I have ever read, and definitely the best in contemporary fiction I've read. The truths were gently but profoundly proclaimed, and I deeply sympathized with the well-drawn characters. This book is not only entertaining, but important. I hope you'll read it for yourself to find out why. ~Jocelyn Green, author of Wedded to War
On more than one occasion, I have had a conversation with Alice Wisler about my book reviews. She has asked me if I ever write any negative reviews. Now, I always try to find the positive in all the books I read and I do like to focus on the positives (not to mention the fact that I like a wide variety of books), but I did tell her that if she wants to read a not so positive review of mine, she should read some of my Amish fiction reviews. Amish fiction is not my favorite. There are some very good Amish novels and a couple consistently excellent Amish novelists, but in general, I don’t care much for the Amish genre.
Imagine my disappointment when I found out my FAVORITE author had written an “Amish” novel. I thought, “Alice, no, not you too!” But, I knew she would not let me down and when I learned that Still Life in Shadows was about an ex-Amish man who helped the Amish escape, I was certain this book would be different. It was. I was fretting over nothing.
I became a fan of Alice’s books with her first novel, Rain Song. That book has been my absolute favorite book ever since, even after reading all of her books. I’m not sure I can say that any more. Still Life in Shadows had all the things that make Alice’s books wonderful, but I also found that it had more. It seems to me that Alice has really been refining her writing and bring much more emotion with her when she sits down to write.
I have gotten to know Alice personally in the years since her debut and one of the things that I love about her books is that she puts so much of herself in her stories. I love that personal touch and it makes her books more sentimental for me as a reader. She really outdid herself in Still Life in Shadows. I really appreciated her including her son Daniel in this story in a very special way. Daniel was just four years old when he passed away on February 2, 1997 and Alice used the date February 2 in a special way in this story and it did not go unappreciated by me. It’s those little details that Alice never misses, and as a reader, I love that she shares so much of her heart with me.
Alice did not forget about the hopeless romantic in all of us in this story. The developing (and fragile) relationship between Gideon, the ex-Amish man, and Mari was perfectly woven into a story with a deep message of forgiveness in a beautiful way without being sappy.
This book held a most pleasant surprise for me and her name was Kiki. Kiki is an autistic teenager and I adored her. Among my favorite books are those that focus on young girls who have difficulty fitting in, I can relate to that from my younger days. I loved seeing the world through Kiki’s sensitive eyes. Without her, this book would not have been quite right. She belonged in this story with this group of people who only wanted to know the love of family and belonging. I loved it.
Still Life in Shadows is a beautiful story. I loved every moment and once again I am reminded why Alice Wisler is my favorite author. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I really can’t believe that I think I have found a book that I liked better than Rain Song, but really any book by Alice is a winner.
This story of a boy who fifteen years ago ran away from his Amish family and lifestyle is somber yet enlightening. Because of the harshness of Gideon Miller’s father and his home life, Gideon doesn’t know how to have fun. Wisler expertly paints a character that is dedicated, responsible, and serious. Gideon is one dimensional until a little girl and her big sister pry away his Amish shell and expose him to smiles, laughter, and God’s forgiveness. Every character is well developed and memorable, and the setting descriptions are realistic.
This is the first book that I have read by Alice Wisler. Alice was nice enough to provide this copy to me to give me a chance to see if her books would be welcomed by men readers.
Gideon has run long and hard away from his past, but he still manages to hang on to a piece of it by helping Amish kids relocate from their Amish world to modern America. Gideon becomes involved in the life of autistic Kiki due to damage she had done to his gas station. In the process, he becomes involved in her sister, Mari. Out of the blue he gets a call from his brother, Moriah, who wants to come live with him. Gideon learns that Moriah's reasons for moving in weren't clear and honest, as he finds Moriah is into drugs. As the tension between them grows, we find out the reason Gideon has run away from his family for so long. When Moriah is found dead, Gideon now must return to the Amish life that he had left behind. What happens when he confronts his dad over issues from their past? Is forgiveness in his future? Take the time to buy this book and find out!
Ms. Wisler has created a very mysterious, yet likable character in Gideon. He has so much hidden in his past, but yet he appears to be open to sharing his experiences with Mari. The story that Ms. Wisler has created is very believable and one that keeps you interested from the start. There is so much depth to her characters, that you end up rooting for them as the story progresses. This book is heavy on forgiveness, it was to me, the main theme that ran throughout this book. The forgiveness that Gideon had for Kiki, for his brother, his father and even himself. As he notices later in the book, "the Almighty's arms are wide and merciful enough to forgive even the most guilty of creatures".
Is this a "guy's book"? There isn't alot of "action" in the book, but this is a story that all men need to read. Between the emotions that Gideon is trying to hide, and the history that we find out between him and his dad, this story reminds us that we need to be more open with our communications. As I read this book, I reflected on my own relationship with my dad. I have been blessed to have a very close relationship with him and I know that I am who I am because of my relationship with him.
"Alice J. Wisler took me by surprise with this intriguing spin on the Amish genre. Still Life in Shadows is a beautiful story about the complexities of faith, friendship, family, and the daring lengths one man will go to save those he cares about. An excellent demonstration of God's love, this story has the power to change hearts." -Tina Ann Forkner, Author of Rose House
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Review 8 for Still Life in Shadows
An Eye-Opening Read
Date:August 15, 2012
Author Katy Lee
Alice Wisler's latest book, Still Life in Shadows, captures a clear glimpse into the Amish life. Every beautifully placed word written on Alice's pages has a purpose for being there. Each scene leads up to the overall meaning of the story, which I believe is the cleansing power of forgiveness. She is in no way devaluing the Amish way of life, but rather shedding light on the pain that some endure.
I don't feel her goal in writing this story was to criticize any which way of life. She shows the pros and cons of both sides of the fence. She speaks truth. She doesn't blur the image to make it seem more perfect for one side over the other. But rather she exemplifies the need for moderation in this life. In the end, I believe Alice's purpose in writing this story was not to place blame, but to show how the evil on either side can destroy people when we take our eyes off the ultimate focal point--God.
A huge thank you goes to the author for sending me a sneak-peak of what's to come for her readers. Believe me when I tell you, Still Life in Shadows is worth the wait. You will fall in love with the real-life characters and will be cheering them on the whole way. Their caring support of each other gives the real depiction of what a family looks like, even if it's not what their society says. And with their eyes focused on God, they can't help but to prosper in whatever community they choose to live in.