"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

03 November 2017

2017 Book Review #32: Of Stillness and Storm

This is a new-to-me author.

She is an excellent writer!

She is a "MK" (Missionary Kid) and this book is about a fictional missionary family, set in Nepal.


Lauren Conventry and her husband Sam have one son, Ryan.  When Ryan is 11 years old, they begin their trek as missionaries to Nepal.  It took 10 years of planning, and Sam is convinced he heard from God regarding his call to the mission field. He believes he is supposed to reach the primitive tribes.  However, Lauren does not share his passion and Ryan downright hates life in the city capital of Kathmandu.  Ryan never really wanted to leave the United States, his friends, school, soccer team.  Lauren, ever the submissive wife, teaches part time at the language school while Sam leaves them for weeks at a time to do his work of preaching about God and living like the native people.

Life is hard in Kathmandu, especially because Sam forbids his family to have the luxuries that other expats enjoy.  He believes they should be living like the Nepalese people. This causes Lauren and Ryan to have much resentment and soon bitterness and despair creep in.  What started out as a "calling", soon becomes a burden...and the family's undoing.

When Lauren is at her most disillusioned and worry about Ryan settles in, a friend from her past enters her life via social media (Facebook).  Aiden was once her very best friend and on graduation night from high school, a revelation took place.  However, it has been 22 years since they were face to face.  Her communication with Aiden via social media and Skype intensify....and so does the turmoil of her marriage and her mix of the past with the present.  And 13 year old Ryan begins to bear the brunt of her distraction.

Life on the mission field is not going the way Lauren anticipated yet Sam, when he is home for a week after being gone for 3 weeks at a time, doesn't seem to notice his failing marriage, his rocky relationship with his son, or that Lauren is unhappy.  He says "God called us to Nepal".  Lauren is having doubts.

And then the unthinkable happens......

What will happen to this family and their faith in God??


This story really shows the tension that can occur in missionary families.  It shows a real struggle between God's calling and family life.  It brings out that some times the sacrifices we make for God can cause others to suffer and this is not what God even intended!  

One writer describes this book as "the Poisonwood Bible for a new generation".  (I read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover, years ago when it first came out and that gets a 10 from me...it is excellent!)

The character development in this book is very well done.  Lauren and Aiden's relationship brings tears to your eyes especially when you learn what Aiden is dealing with.

This story had a couple of good quotes in it.  The first one that really made me pause to reflect was as follows:

"We've gotten good at pretending to be everything we're not" 
(pg 295, Of Stillness and Storm by Michelle Phoenix c.2016)

and this....

"He was still everything I'd believed Him to be...my relentless, demanding, trustworthy, benevolent, and healing God." 
(pg 318, Of Stillness and Storm, by Michelle Phoenix, c. 2016) 

I loved that the author pointed out early warning signs that Sam was a bit irrational in his pursuit of the ministry of being a missionary.  I can imagine this is very life like.

One of the book discussion questions in the back asks: "How does the church's naivete about missionaries and their children potentially protect the kind of dysfunction the Coventry family experiences?"  

The author notes in the back of the book explain what she has observed as a missionary kid and she says she has experienced the best a life in ministry has to offer but that she also suffered some of the worst experiences it offers.  She then goes on to speak about what she believes regarding missionary work.  It is quite fascinating.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.

1 comment:

Susanne said...

I'm kinda sorry now that I passed on this book when it came up for review. It sounds very interesting. My library does not have it listed so I'm going to ask the to check outside of our inter-library loan.