Title: Of Stillness and Storm by Michèle Phoenix
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
“I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing.”
It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing.
At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.
Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.
Of Stillness and Storm by Michèle Phoenix is a poignant, heartrending exploration of the devastating effect missionary work can sometimes have on families.
Living in the midst of poverty-stricken Nepal, Lauren Coventry and her thirteen year old son, Ryan, are struggling to cope with the difficulties of day to day life. Lauren is trying to be supportive of her husband Sam, who is off for weeks at a time fulfilling his dream (and self-proclaimed calling) to spread the word of God while trying to improve conditions in outlying communities. Although Lauren has a strong faith of her own, the isolation and growing distance in their family leads her to question Sam’s zealous pursuit of his ministry and his lack of conern for its effect on their family. When a childhood friend reaches out to her on social media, Lauren’s viewpoint of her family’s sacrifice for her husband’s dreams begins to change and she grows increasingly concerned over the disconnect between her and Ryan. When tragedy strikes, will Lauren find the strength and courage to do what is best for her family?
Lauren fully admits she is partially to blame for her current situation but she cannot help but resent Sam’s intractable beliefs and decisions. She wants to honor her marriage vows and support Sam’s dreams, but at what cost? The changes in Ryan were immediate and despite Sam’s pleas to give him time to adjust, two years after their move, he is growing more distant and unwilling to communicate. Lauren is fed up with Sam’s edicts and she is frustrated with living without any conveniences that would make their life more bearable. Unable to reach her son as he grows more despondent, Lauren is sinking under the weight of living a life that is not of her choosing. But how can she reconcile her desire to put the needs of herself and her son ahead of Sam’s calling to do God’s work?
Sam’s need to do missionary work is admirable but his zealotry blinds him to the effect his work is having on his family. He does not take Lauren’s needs or objections into consideration as he blindly follows his path. His complete and utter disregard for his son’s downward spiral is incredibly frustrating as he puts his efforts into bettering the lives of others while ignoring the pain his family is experiencing. Sam’s devotion to his cause, his fervent belief in God’s will and his expectation that Lauren submit to his will makes it impossible for her to have productive discussions with him about their fraying family. His reactions and edicts are counterproductive to Ryan’s increasing despair and Sam absolutely refuses to take Lauren’s concerns seriously.
Of Stillness and Storm by Michèle Phoenix is an emotionally compelling and often times, heartbreaking, novel about the difficulties of balancing a family’s needs with missionary work. This thought-provoking portrayal of family in crisis shows how easy it is to put service to God before family and the destruction such a decision can have when conviction blinds them to the needs of their immediate family. An absolutely outstanding cautionary tale that is deeply affecting and will linger in readers’ minds long after the last page is turned.