On Shifting Sand

On Shifting Sand by Allison Pittman was one of the best historical fiction books I've read in quite some time. The first person narration of Nola is haunting, compelling, and ultimately beautiful. This book is set during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, which was an extremely interesting time period to learn and read about. The book description reads:

"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."

This was such a surprising book in so many ways. Nola is a preacher's wife, although she doesn't relish the role. She comes from a very difficult background. Her and Russ, her preacher husband, became pregnant before their wedding. She has low self esteem and feels like a tainted woman unworthy and unwelcomed as a preacher's wife. However, I got the impression that some of this rejection was imaginary on her part due to her low self esteem. Nola is lured into an affair with an old friend of Russ's, who is now a drifter after the war and stops in for an unexpected (to Nola) visit. On Shifting Sand covers so many different aspects of life: premarital sex, out of wedlock pregnancy, adultery, church life, the Dust Bowl, anorexia, sin, forgiveness, redemption, loss of loved ones, and more. This is a shockingly raw and honest book that deals head on with so many of life's issues that others are afraid to tread on. I couldn't put this book down and it kept me up late at night turning page after page to see where the story would go next. Many women will be able to relate to the struggles Nola faced. Ultimately, this is a beautiful book showing a redemptive picture of a marriage. My only complaint about this book is that I'd have loved to seen more of what happened after Nola and Russ repaired their marriage, and their life after that point. I'd enjoy this novel receiving a sequel. I'd also like to mention that the cover was absolutely stunning - very attractive and inviting. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


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