First, let me say that I didn’t want to put this book down! Allison Pittmans’s book On Shifting Sand had me eagerly turning page after remarkable page. Every night would have to force myself to lay it down on my nightstand so I could get some sleep. It was that good!
Allison, invites us into the life Nola Merill, a married mother of two living in the middle of Oklahoma during the infamous Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. Her mother has passed away, her brother has left town, and her relationship with her father is rocky.
Nola has always dreamed of leaving her home town. When her marriage to her husband Russ doesn’t provide the escape she longs for, misery creeps in and she is anything, but content. The harsh living conditions of the Dust Bowl have only made Nola more miserable .
Not long into the story Jim, an old friend of her husband’s shows up. And because Nola is unsatisfied with her life, she is easily tempted and gets tangled up in an adulterous relationship with him. Ashamed and full of regret, Nola thinks she is undeserving of forgiveness.
What I liked: I love that Allison, chose to write this from Nola’s perspective. In a Q&A interview done by Tyndale, Allison shares why she chose to tell the story this way:
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.
Allison does a wonderful job bringing us into Nola’s world. She takes readers deep into the relationship between Nola and Jim without crossing any lines of propriety. Plus, it allows us to see things from the other side of the story. Most of the books I have read are told in the perspective of the offended rather than the offender.
What I didn’t like: There really isn’t anything I didn’t like, but I there were times when I found myself yelling at Nola’s husband, Russ. All she wanted to do was pack up her family and leave that dirty dusty town behind, but he refused to listen. I kept thinking, “What is wrong with you dude? Pack up your family and leave!” Thankfully he finally listened to me later in the story.
I would recommend this book to anyone– we could all learn something from it. It’s truly a brilliant story of grace and redemption.
*Book clubs and small groups will love the questions in the back. See my review on Amazon.