Saturday, April 18, 2015

On Shifting Sand - A Book Review

On Shifting Sand by Allison Pittman is a complex book, but one that is sure to pull at your heartstrings.  The story is set in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl and with no rain and constant dust storms plaguing the town, Nola feels like her life is just as dried up as the land.

Nola married Russ, a young preacher, in attempt to get away from her heartless father.  She did not find the happiness she desired and now twelve years have passed and she has two children and is unhappier than ever.  She is good at masking her discontentment, at least until Jim, a friend from her husband's college years, comes and stays in their home.  Nola fights her attraction to him, but his continued affections leads Nola to do the unthinkable and cheat on her husband.  Nola battles her shame for a long time and is afraid that her husband will never be able to forgive her for what she has done.  She asks God forgiveness but knows she must confess to her husband and seek his forgiveness as well.

You might be thinking "how can this be considered a christian book?" or "I am not going to read a book about infidelity".   Believe me when I say that I completely understand that way of thinking.  I am very strict on the type of books I read and I don't feel like this book is written in a distasteful way at all.  It is about a woman who is lost.  A woman who struggles with guilt and shame.  It's about grace and redemption, about love and forgiveness.  It's about restoration and hope.   This is a different kind of love story.  It's not what I expected from this book, but it was really good.

***Thank you to Tyndale for providing this book to me in exchange for my honest review.

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.

3. What truths do you hope readers will take away from On Shifting Sand?
First, that you cannot run from your sin. You cannot hide from God’s ever watchful eye. You cannot commit any sin too grievous for His grace. You cannot thrive under the burden of guilt.
Second, that you can learn from a character without necessarily loving her. Or liking her. You might not even believe that she deserves forgiveness—from God, or from her husband. But that is why I am so thankful to live as a child wrapped in God’s sovereign mercy.

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