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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Still Life in Shadows---a novel without a bonnet

I heard about your new novel. And judging by the cover that has a buggy on it, I bet I know where it takes place. Lancaster, Pennsylvania? Holmes County, Ohio? Yes, I'm concluding that your next novel must be an Amish tale. The plain life?

Actually, Still Life in Shadows is not an Amish story. Gideon Miller has left the Old Order lifestyle. Although it's been fifteen years since he ran away from home the night of his cousin's wedding in East Carlisle, Pennsylvania, he still eats apple butter. He isn't sure about his faith. Or his father. He helps dissatisfied Amish youth relocate to the "English" life.

Perhaps, Still Life in Shadows is more Amish than I thought.

I started out with an agenda. I was a bit put off by the love for Amish lore. Come on, why all this simple farm life idealism? You do know that not all Amish are happy. They have issues and troubles and face family turmoil.

But then Gideon Miller took over. After all, this is his story, not mine. Gideon is a thirty-year-old trying to make life in Twin Branches, North Carolina, work for him.

All is going well with his job as a mechanic at the auto shop, until his younger brother Moriah comes to town. Moriah is good-looking and has a way with the ladies . . .

Told from Gideon's point of view, and thirteen-year-old Kiki's (an autistic girl who lives with her older sister), Still Life in Shadows is a story of belonging. It's also a story about forgiving---especially yourself.

Here's an excerpt from the novel:

Kiki was not only good at holding her breath, but she could also read upside down pretty well. The name on the file was hers. She bet that if she looked inside, it would have in large, mean letters: Retard.

But she was not a retard, she was autistic. That’s what Dr. Conner said. And it wasn’t bad to be autistic. That’s what he told her whenever she shouted how she hated being this way. Being autistic just meant she was unique. The key was learning how to adapt to her uniqueness and make it work in a complex world. Complex.

Suddenly Kiki wanted to ask the principal if he knew what that word meant. She looked across the desk at him as he continued burrowing through her file.

But before she had a chance to speak, he asked, “Did you get into trouble at your school in Asheville?”

She wanted to say, “No way!” but she knew that was a lie. In fact, in all her thirteen years, she couldn’t recall ever not being in trouble. But she wouldn’t tell him that. She opened her mouth to say something—she wasn’t sure what would come out. But just then the door scraped open and in walked the man from the auto shop, wearing his work clothes and smelling of the identical aftershave her social studies teacher wore.

“This is Mr. Miller.” The VP motioned the newcomer toward the chair by Kiki and then closed the door.

Look forward to Still Life in Shadows, coming in August from River North.


Mary Jackson said...

I can not wait to read this!

Alice J. Wisler said...

Mary, I cannot wait for you to read it! :-)

Dee Yoder said...

Oh my goodness! I am so excited for this book! I work with Mission to Amish People and have met Mose. I also work with many former Amish. And, I have a son with Asperger's Syndrome so this book will be a blessing on all fronts.

Looking forward to reading it!

Alice J. Wisler said...

Thanks, Dee! SO nice to have met you online!

Nora said...

I'm thrilled to hear more of your story. I'm glad to hear what you fell about the Amish and where your story is going. It sounds fascinating!

Thanks for sharing the Excerpt! I'm looking forward to reading more of this book!


Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Nancee said...

I'm thrilled to hear about this new book, with a different approach to the Amish life. Thanks for a wonderful preview!

Ladette Kerr said...

This sounds GREAT!! I cannot wait to read it. While I LOVE the Amish life as we know it... I have often thought-- they can't all be that happy. Life is just NOT that SIMPLE! Glad to see a book with a different point of view.

Judy said...

This book sound so good! I can't wait until August. Alice, will you do more books along this line and is this a stand alone?


Jo said...

This book really does sound great and definitely one I do want to read.


Alice J. Wisler said...

Thanks, all! This is a stand-alone novel.

Mocha with Linda said...

Looking forward to reading this!

Michelle Sutton said...

Oh my. An author who dares to write that Amish folks aren't perfect, or ex-Amish folks. :)

Susan said...

Sounds so good! I too am put off by the 'worship' of the amish lifestyle.

Alice J. Wisler said...

Love all the comments here!

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