Still Life in Shadows

Still Life in Shadows

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by Alice Wisler

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It’s been fifteen years since Gideon Miller ran away from his Amish community in Carlisle, Pennsylvania as a boy of fifteen.  Gideon arrives in the Smoky Mountains town of Twin Branches and settles in at the local auto mechanic's garage. He meets a host of interesting characters –the most recent acquaintances are Kiki, an autistic teen, and her


It’s been fifteen years since Gideon Miller ran away from his Amish community in Carlisle, Pennsylvania as a boy of fifteen.  Gideon arrives in the Smoky Mountains town of Twin Branches and settles in at the local auto mechanic's garage. He meets a host of interesting characters –the most recent acquaintances are Kiki, an autistic teen, and her sister Mari. Known as the "Getaway Savior" he helps other Amish boys and girls relocate to life in modern America.

One day the phone rings. On the other end is his brother Moriah calling from Florida. Of course Gideon welcomes his brother to stay with him and offers him a job. But Moriah is caught in a web which ends in his death and forces Gideon to return to the town of his youth, with his brother’s body in the back of a hearse and Mari and Kiki at his side. He must face not only the community he ran away from years ago but also his own web of bitterness. Will he be able to give his anger over to God and forgive his father? 

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"I'm so excited to read this book! From a theological perspective I'm so glad to see someone tackling this issue. It has really been needed." --Julia M. Reffner

"I figured it out in the middle of the night! You know how you enjoy that very last piece of cake? You are so glad to have it and savor it and enjoy it, but then when you finish it, you're sad because it's all gone and you won't be able to have another taste until another of those cakes is made. That is why I felt sad finishing "Still Life in Shadows!" I have to wait until ? Until your next novel is published!" -- Lisa Gramann, a faithful reader of Alice Wisler

"Check it out!! Now, I never, ever thought I would say this next sentence, but here it is: It's a great Amish story. Well, no. It's a great EX-Amish story and there's none of the typical Amish fluff stuff in it. Alice Jay Wisler did an excellent job portraying some of the anguish that can come of leaving your family and lifestyle; of learning to forgive--both others and yourself. She also created this great little autistic girl that I just loved. It's a good book. You should check it out. Yay Alice!" -- Rachel Overton

Product Details

Moody Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)

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Still Life in Shadows

By Alice J. Wisler

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2012 Alice J. Wisler
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8024-0626-2

Chapter One

Kiki had to get out, get going, or she'd punch a hole in something. This two-bedroom house was as cramped as a coffin and nearly smelled like one, as the aroma of fried food saturated the walls. Mari had told her to stay close, dinner was almost ready. But who wanted to wait around inside as her sister stir-fried green peppers, onions, and potatoes—again?

In her room, Kiki laced her neon green tennis shoes as quickly as her fingers could maneuver the frayed strings. She grabbed Yoneko, her cotton tabby-cat puppet, and scrambled to her feet. Too quickly. The blood all rushed from her head. She steadied herself against her closet door and waited for the sensation to pass. Slow down, slow down, for Pete's sake. Then with tiny steps, she ventured into the hallway.

Her sister Mari—a lanky figure still wearing the tea shop's frilly apron—stood in front of the stove. With her back to Kiki, she turned vegetables over with a spatula and hummed some song—probably from the last century. Mari liked those old romantic songs by the Beatles and Bob Dylan because, as she put it, they had meaning for her heart.

Kiki held her breath; she was good at that. One, two, three. She'd held it for ninety-nine seconds once. No way could anyone, especially not that braggart, Angle Smithfield, compete with the record she'd set. Still holding and counting to herself, she made no sound as she slipped toward the screened back door. She opened it cautiously, making sure not to bang it against the frame.

Quiet as a mouse. If Mari knew what she was up to, the game was over. Mari would yell, then Kiki'd yell and do what Dr. Conner said she must not do—throw a clenched fist at her bedroom wall.

There, dimmed by the fading sun on the crooked driveway, stood her best friend—her maroon bicycle. She tossed Yoneko into the wire basket that wobbled by the handlebars, hopped on, and released the kickstand with a swift push. Just a little cruise before it was time to eat. Just down the street and around the corner. Exercise was good for her. Hadn't Dr. Conner told her that?

She pedaled fast and then slow, pretending she was a cyclist on some reality TV show, going for the prize. With the evening breeze in her short-cropped black hair, she smiled. Riding was almost as beautiful as hearing the choir at church sing the benediction about God being close to us, like our very breath. When she rode, it didn't matter that she was often a girl in the shadows watching others her age gather to talk about boys, leaving her out.

The dry mountain road curved around, and the climb was steep. But once she passed the Ridge Valley Apartments, the road sloped and she could coast down it with ease. To the left, right, suddenly she was in town pedaling past the hardware store, the tearoom, the Smithfield Funeral Home, and then a right curve by Russell Brothers Auto Repair Shop.

She'd watched these men, greasy with car fluids, jack up a Chevrolet or Ford in the two bays and use their tools to fix what they needed to. They had so many shiny tools. Her fingers itched to touch them, to use them on her bike. One of these days, she'd ask them—ask the man who always wore a beige shirt and John Deere ball cap—if she could borrow a tool or two. Her bike's front wheel was squeaky, especially after she cruised in the rain. But now a sign on the shop's glass door read "Closed." That meant everyone had gone home. She edged her bike toward the parking lot, a wide section to the left of the shop. Today it was barricaded by four bright orange cones, cones standing tall in a line where the lot met the leaf-blown sidewalk.

Past those cones was a spacious place to ride, without a parked car or truck in sight. She bet she could go fast. The space called to her; she could hear it. She would just ride around it, the autumn air in her face. She wouldn't hurt anything—those cones probably just meant they didn't want people parking there when they were closed. She heard music in her head—not one of Mari's ancient songs, but one of her own that sang, Kiki is the champion, Kiki rides faster than the wind.

She pedaled quickly into the lot. Immediately her bike slowed, grew sluggish. She pedaled harder. What was wrong ? She looked at the pavement. For Pete's sake, it was soft and gooey, like the oatmeal Mari made for breakfast on chilly mornings before school. She pumped her legs hard; that always made her bike sail. But today it was only getting the front tire stuck. She tried again, but the bike teetered to the left. To regain balance, she dropped her feet from the pedals onto the ground. Like the tires, her shoes made fresh imprints into the pavement.

She saw all the faces that could get mad, grow red with frustration. "Yoneko," she said to her puppet, "we gotta get out of here." Her tires were coated with a gray film, and as she rushed home, flecks flew from them and dripped off her tennis shoes.

A few neighbors called, but she just kept racing toward her one-story house with the peeling front porch. In the driveway, she slid off her bike and guided it against the side of the house, behind an overgrown azalea bush. She pulled Yoneko from the basket and looked at her sneakers. They were caked. She tried scraping their soles against the gravel driveway and then in the grass. Knowing that there wasn't much time till dinner, she sat down in the yard and quickly tugged them off. Dropping them inside the basket, she hoped that no one would see the dirty bike or her shoes. No one will ever know, she thought as she mounted the steps to her back door.

Inside, she took a few breaths.

"Kiki!" Mari's voice was loud from the kitchen.

"Yes?" Kiki made her way down the hall, her socks slipping along the hardwood.

"Where were you?" Mari searched her eyes, then filled the room with a vast sigh. "Come on, time to eat."

Kiki stared at the plate of fried food her sister had placed at her table setting. She dreamed of chicken baked in crushed onion rings, like she saw on a TV commercial, mashed taters, a side of macaroni and cheese, and a slice of creamy chocolate pie. But there would be none of that. Her sister only knew how to make one recipe, and this—this measly dish—was it.

Chapter Two

At sunrise, Gideon Miller, dressed in a beige shirt and black pants, ambled into his kitchen. As he spread apple butter on wheat toast, he thought of the harvest in Carlisle. Something about autumn mornings made him nostalgic for the open fields and watery-blue skies of his hometown, the distant mountains framing the landscape like a postcard. He thought of his mother, in a gray apron and bonnet, hanging clothes on the line. He saw his father, heaving bales of hay into his barn nestled in the ninety acres of farmland, his face stern because he did not know how to smile. Even after all these years away, Gideon's childhood crackled like dry leaves into the crevices of his memory. Why did he allow these thoughts ? Seeing it was already seven, he placed his plate into the dishwasher and grabbed his John Deere ball cap from the hook on the living room wall.

Pushing aside anger from his youth, he set out to walk the mile to work. Walking was his fitness program. At thirty, he was not getting any younger. Or thinner. The brisk trek to the shop each morning, then back to his apartment after work, helped him feel no guilt when he went to the tearoom for a coveted piece of blackberry pie. Their pie was just like his aunt Grace made back in Harrisburg, the crust flaky and the filling not too sweet. Good blackberry pies weren't easy to come by.

He saw the damage to the pavement as soon as he rounded the corner. The cones were still there, spaced like he'd left them yesterday at closing. The cones were supposed to keep everyone out, but hooligans were oblivious to those rules.

Ormond Russell sat at the desk he kept in the middle of the shop's musty office, seven feet in front of the storage room. Ormond, too old to be much good now, had taught Gideon everything he knew—from diagnosing engines to changing spark plugs. The shop was his, named after his father, the late Edgar Russell.

"What happened to the driveway?" Gideon bellowed. His voice made the hair rise on the back of his own neck. Why was it that whenever he yelled, he sounded just like his father?

"Beats me." Ormond looked up from the Twin Star and sipped from a chipped mug of coffee. He wiped a hand over his gray mustache. "I parked across the street by the hardware store. I listened when you told me yesterday the parking lot was out of commission from being newly poured."

"There are tracks all over it."

"Tracks? The train don't run through here, now do it ?" Ormond chuckled as he often did when he was amused by his own jokes.

Gideon usually laughed with Ormond, but not this morning. Not after he had spent half a day smoothing new concrete. "Someone will pay." His father's phrase—someone will pay. He'd used it that day, his neck pulsating with purple veins, when the gate to the orchard had been left open.

Gideon thought of calling Henry Kingston, Twin Branches' sheriff, and filing a complaint, but the phone on his cluttered desk rang and delayed that concern.

"Hello, Russell Brothers Auto Repair."

"Uh, hi."

"Yes ?" Gideon drew the receiver closer.

"Is this Gideon Miller?" The voice was strained.

"It is."


"Yes." Was this another prank call? Silence was heavy on the other end. "State your business, please."

"I'm Amos." There was a pause. "Amos Stoltzfus, son of Ruth and Amos in Lancaster."

Gideon knew Lancaster County. They produced some of the best apple butter of any Amish community. "Well, Amos. What can I do for you ?"

"I'm told you can help me."

Gideon heard the accent then, there was no denying it. His gut told him this was not going to be a conversation about a car that needed new tires or to be towed from a desolate mountain road. As he watched Luke Sander enter the shop and head to his bay to finish work on a Ford truck brought in yesterday, he recalled six years ago. It had been autumn then, too, when Luke called him from a gas station in Huntington, West Virginia, asking if Gideon would help him and his thirteen-year-old sister Rebecca to escape. They'd managed to get rides—on public transportation and from an uncle who owned a furniture store in Cincinnati. Their uncle took them as far as Charleston, West Virginia, but they needed a way to get to him in Twin Branches, North Carolina. They were out of money.

Today's caller didn't use the word escape; he asked if he could learn how to become English. Only he asked it in Pennsylvania Deutsch, the German dialect, making Gideon's skin grow clammy with memories.

"Where are you now ?"

"Outside of Harrisburg at a truck stop."

"That's a long ways away."

"I know. But if I get to you, can you help me?"

How could he say no? It was what he did, part of who he was: someone to believe in. "I can. Call me again when you get to the Smoky Mountains. Try to get a ride to Gatlinburg, in Tennessee."

"Thank you." The lightness to his voice made Gideon relax.

"How did you hear about me ?" he asked before hanging up.

"Everyone knows about you, Gideon. You're the Getaway Savior."

Gideon worked off his frustration by ordering three cases of motor oil from his supplier and completing the inspection for a 2003 Jeep owned by the local librarian. Then he repaired the parking lot. When he finished, he duct-taped a cardboard sign with "do not trespass" in bold letters to one of the cones, looked at his work, and figured that should do the trick. Inside the shop, he interrupted Luke and Ormond's discussion on the recent University of Tennessee football game to emphasize that under no circumstances were they to let anyone walk or park on the lot. Then, as his stomach rumbled, he washed his hands and set out to Another Cup, the local tea shop, for a sandwich and some green tea.

He sat at the counter where he always did, in the corner near a jukebox he'd never heard play. He didn't bother with the menu—he wanted hot green tea and a roast beef on rye. He'd heard green tea was filled with antioxidants, good for the body, and now that he'd tried it, he liked it. As he ate, he read the newspaper, his shop's copy that he had persuaded Ormond to hand him. While Ormond focused on the sports page, real news always fascinated Gideon. Growing up, he'd had no idea there were shootings in the Middle East, plane crashes, and oil spills. Life had been about his remote community alone.

When the new manager approached him, he grinned at her and put his paper aside. Mari was her name. She was young, probably twenty-five, thin, dark hair and eyes. When she smiled, it was like being at the beach on a summer day. Last time they'd talked, she said she'd just moved here from Atlanta to take on the manager job at this tearoom. Today she eyed his green tea and said she was surprised.

"Surprised? Why?"

"Never met a man who drinks green tea." Her voice was gentle, her dark eyes flashed warmth.

"In Asia, doesn't everyone?"

"Sure. But we're in little Twin Branches, and most of the men I know here don't touch hot tea."

"I'm not from around here. Maybe that's why."

"Where are you from?"

"Pennsylvania." He didn't want to add he was once Amish.

"I've been there a few times. Isn't that where they have all those funny people who ride in horses and carriages?"

He swallowed hard, then said, "Uh, well ... Where did you grow up?"

"Far from here." Picking up a cloth, she wiped down the counter to the left of him. "Everyone thinks I grew up in China. Can you believe that?"

Gideon felt a little silly; he'd assumed she was Chinese.

"They ask me about crazy things that have nothing to do with my ancestors." Seeing his clueless expression, she said, "Japan."

"Oh, of course," he said much too loudly. "Japanese, right."

"My great-grandparents came to the States from Kobe. I've never been there, never been to Japan at all." Her gaze shifted to the wide window behind him. "They felt life would be better here. But I don't know." She sighed and slipped her hands into her apron pockets. "There are no perfect places, are there?" Her face clouded and her jaw grew tense and he was afraid she might cry.

"These mountains here are nice" he said with feeling. She didn't respond, so he continued. "Especially now that it's fall, the colors are really pretty. Have you been up to Cove's Peak?"

"I dread the winter."

He wanted to see her smile again, so he thought of one of Ormond's jokes, one about the difference between a cougar and a lawyer. But as he set out to tell it, he realized he'd forgotten the punch line. He stood to pay his bill.

Della—an older woman with a pile of dyed, blond hair and heavy makeup who called everyone Sugar—entered from the kitchen. She took his twenty, handed him change, and said she hoped he had a good day. He wished her the same; it was the American Way.

When he turned to tell Mari goodbye, she was nowhere in sight. The cloth she had been using lay abandoned on the counter. His eyes rested on the clear canister that held flesh pies. He considered getting a slice of blackberry to go, but it was best he got back to work.

Chapter Three

Principal Peppers' office was like a busy intersection, the kind Mari warned her not to ride her bike across. Teachers, the vice principal, and even a bus driver all wanted to discuss something with the middle-school's headmaster.

And here Kiki sat again, in the same chair across from his desk as she had been in last week. She studied his desk, eyes glued to a silver name plaque with his first and last names engraved on it. Dusty Peppers. No wonder people made fun of him. Between his name and his love of Hawaiian shirts, he was recognized and talked about wherever he went in Twin Branches. Kiki had heard that he once ate three bowls of peach ice cream at the state fair, then topped it off with a fried Twinkle.

"I called him," the VP said. She met Principal Peppers' gray eyes, then looked Kiki up and down. Her flown never left her wrinkled face. "He's on his way over."

Kiki's feet itched. She wished she could remove her shoes and scratch them. She heard Angle Smithfield's voice in her head, ringing like a phone that wouldn't quit. "Miss Stevenson! Miss Stevenson, Kiki's in big trouble."

How did Angle know these things? How could the girl accuse Kiki of riding her bike over the parking lot at the auto shop yesterday? Kiki was sure she'd not been seen.

Principal Peppers reassured the driver it was school policy to not tolerate disrespect on the bus. Should the behavior continue, the eighth graders who were tossing cantaloupe slices out the bus windows would be banned from riding. The bus driver thanked him and left.

Kiki's pulse raced. She was alone with Principal Peppers. Swallowing hard, she wished she had her puppet Yoneko. Mari told her not to bring Yoneko to classes because middle-school girls did not carry toys around at school. Toys. Didn't her sister realize Yoneko was more than a toy? Mama had sewed the cat's front paw back on with orange thread last year, making the stuffed puppet whole again.


Excerpted from Still Life in Shadows by Alice J. Wisler Copyright © 2012 by Alice J. Wisler. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

ALICE J. WISLER grew up in Japan as a missionary kid, but now lives and writes in Durham, North Carolina. Her son Daniel died from cancer treatments in 1997 at the age of four. In his memory, she created Daniel's House Publications which offers Writing the Heartache Workshops to help those suffering losses discover the value of writing. She presents these workshops at conferences across the country. She writes for various grief and loss websites, including Open to Hope, where she is the Death of a Child forum editor. She is a frequent contributor to Christian Work at Home Moms (CWAHM), WritersWeekly and Writing for Dollars. Alice is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University, has a B.S. in social work, and has taught disadvantaged children in group homes and in a refugee camp in the Philippines under a program sponsored by the United Nations. She has been published in Personal Journaling, ByLine, Carolina Woman, Carolina Parent, We Need Not Walk Alone, and Living with Grief. She is a member of The Compassionate Friends and Bereaved Parents. She is the author of four inspirational novels: Rain Song (Christy Finalist), How Sweet It Is (Christy Finalist), Hatteras Girl, and A Wedding Invitation (Bethany House Publishers). Two of these have been translated into Dutch and Turkish. Visit her website at

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Still Life in Shadows 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
WildflowerMom More than 1 year ago
A lovely, gently told story, that pulls you into the lives of three main characters who grow together, as they deal with difficult pasts and family situations. It's a wonderful story of imperfect people, who with support from each other, are able to overcome, especially when a tragic event involves them all. It requires some patience to get into, as it's not a fast moving tale, but you'll be glad you didn't quit. Loved the character Kiki, who is an adorable, highly functional autistic tween. She brings so much life to the story. Found myself pulling for Gideon, as he is a shy, wonderful man with a great need to forgive, and is very hard on himself; easy for me to relate to his struggles. Enjoyed the budding friendship he has with Mari, who is very sweet. If you're ready to sit for awhile, and read an unhurried, interesting story, that will leave you smiling in the end, make some time for this book. It's a sit on the porch in the sun with a glass of sweet tea kind of story--a worthy read. Recommend! 4.5 stars
Theophilusfamily More than 1 year ago
Bottom Line: Still Life in Shadows is a sad, moving, very realistic story that convinced me to check out more Alice Wisler books. Lovers of Amish fiction could read this for a gritty look at the intersection of Amish and English worlds. Within the bucolic life of the Plain People, how can abuse and despair still flourish like a poisonous plant? Answer: because the Amish are fallen men craving grace like the rest of us, and sometimes parental pride combines with strict religion and drives the children away. That's what happened to Gideon, almost two decades before. He withstood the oppression of his father as long as he could, and then he escaped. Now he's a reserved, still-waters-running-deep kind of man working in an auto-repair shop, and on the side he's aiding fellow escapees. The Getaway Savior. That's what they call him. It's a heavy title to wear, and a great responsibility to carry. Helping young Amish people transfer to the outside culture requires patience and wisdom. Gideon can usually summon up both, and he earned them through his own hard experiences. He's just now able to look back on his upbringing and realize that there are some parts he doesn't want to throw away. Even while he lives and moves in the modern world, there are some Amish attitudes that are forever built into his soul. He doesn't hate all of it. Just the pain and the shame and the secrets. Flitting about on the periphery of his life is a source of joy that he tries hard not to notice. Kiki, a teen girl obsessed with working on her bicycle, and Mari her older sister. Kiki wants a job at the garage and Mari serves the best tea and pie in the state. For a reason he doesn't understand, he begins connecting with both of them, allowing tiny thoughts of Family to slip into his head. And then his real brother returns. Oh, Moriah. Why? I love the way that Alice Wisler gave every character's story an inherent dignity. That's important... that each one have their space and let the meanings flow from whatever happens, good or bad. This book is beautiful because most of the action is actually internal, inside Gideon and Mari and Kiki and Luke and Ashlyn and Ormund, and Moriah and Della and Principal Pepper. Depending on their role in the story, you get to see various amounts of their growth and faith and thoughts. Thabk you MP Newsroom for my copy.
Quiversquest More than 1 year ago
This is not your typical Amish novel. The characters are one step removed from Amish community life, but the values are still there, at least those worth keeping. I like the main character's inner struggle, ability to help while keeping healthy boundaries, and the surrounding characters, who were in themselves interesting, adding to the plot, which was quite "outside the box." The reading level is easy, flows nicely, and there is an economy of simple language that was appealing, too.
Tracykrausswrtr More than 1 year ago
Still Life In Shadows by Alice Wisler is a book with many layers. There is a thread of romance, but the real theme of the book is learning to forgive, learning to let go, and learning to trust yourself. The very unique thing about this book is that it is written from two very different points of view, and not those that you would expect. Gideon Miller escaped from the Amish community fifteen years ago. He has managed to carve out a life for himself as a mechanic and an upstanding member of his small community. To other Amish wanting to escape their imposed lifestyle, he has also become known as the ‘savior’. The other point of view is that of a thirteen year old autistic girl – certainly atypical, but very believably done. Mari and Kiki are sisters who have moved to the town when their mother, a hoarder, was deemed an unfit parent. Mari works at the local diner, and becomes Gideon’s love interest, while Kiki, the autistic girl, must try to navigate life away from the familiar. When Gideon’s younger brother, Moriah, escapes the community he starts making bad choices and getting in with some unsavory people. This part of the story is the major crisis that drives Gideon to question his own choices. This is not a typical romance, with that part of the book taking second place to the deeper emotional issues the characters must face. It is a complex book, with lots of inner discovery on both the part of Gideon and Kiki.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a good fiction theme,great writer, enjoyed the story.
Carlybird More than 1 year ago
On more than one occasion, I have had a conversation with Alice Wisler about my book reviews. She has asked me if I ever write any negative reviews. Now, I always try to find the positive in all the books I read and I do like to focus on the positives (not to mention the fact that I like a wide variety of books), but I did tell her that if she wants to read a not so positive review of mine, she should read some of my Amish fiction reviews. Amish fiction is not my favorite. There are some very good Amish novels and a couple consistently excellent Amish novelists, but in general, I don’t care much for the Amish genre. Imagine my disappointment when I found out my FAVORITE author had written an “Amish” novel. I thought, “Alice, no, not you too!” But, I knew she would not let me down and when I learned that Still Life in Shadows was about an ex-Amish man who helped the Amish escape, I was certain this book would be different. It was. I was fretting over nothing. I became a fan of Alice’s books with her first novel, Rain Song. That book has been my absolute favorite book ever since, even after reading all of her books. I’m not sure I can say that any more. Still Life in Shadows had all the things that make Alice’s books wonderful, but I also found that it had more. It seems to me that Alice has really been refining her writing and bring much more emotion with her when she sits down to write. I have gotten to know Alice personally in the years since her debut and one of the things that I love about her books is that she puts so much of herself in her stories. I love that personal touch and it makes her books more sentimental for me as a reader. She really outdid herself in Still Life in Shadows. I really appreciated her including her son Daniel in this story in a very special way. Daniel was just four years old when he passed away on February 2, 1997 and Alice used the date February 2 in a special way in this story and it did not go unappreciated by me. It’s those little details that Alice never misses, and as a reader, I love that she shares so much of her heart with me. Alice did not forget about the hopeless romantic in all of us in this story. The developing (and fragile) relationship between Gideon, the ex-Amish man, and Mari was perfectly woven into a story with a deep message of forgiveness in a beautiful way without being sappy. This book held a most pleasant surprise for me and her name was Kiki. Kiki is an autistic teenager and I adored her. Among my favorite books are those that focus on young girls who have difficulty fitting in, I can relate to that from my younger days. I loved seeing the world through Kiki’s sensitive eyes. Without her, this book would not have been quite right. She belonged in this story with this group of people who only wanted to know the love of family and belonging. I loved it. Still Life in Shadows is a beautiful story. I loved every moment and once again I am reminded why Alice Wisler is my favorite author. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I really can’t believe that I think I have found a book that I liked better than Rain Song, but really any book by Alice is a winner.
JoHuddleston More than 1 year ago
This story of a boy who fifteen years ago ran away from his Amish family and lifestyle is somber yet enlightening. Because of the harshness of Gideon Miller’s father and his home life, Gideon doesn’t know how to have fun. Wisler expertly paints a character that is dedicated, responsible, and serious. Gideon is one dimensional until a little girl and her big sister pry away his Amish shell and expose him to smiles, laughter, and God’s forgiveness. Every character is well developed and memorable, and the setting descriptions are realistic.
libraryboy More than 1 year ago
This is the first book that I have read by Alice Wisler. Alice was nice enough to provide this copy to me to give me a chance to see if her books would be welcomed by men readers. Gideon has run long and hard away from his past, but he still manages to hang on to a piece of it by helping Amish kids relocate from their Amish world to modern America. Gideon becomes involved in the life of autistic Kiki due to damage she had done to his gas station. In the process, he becomes involved in her sister, Mari. Out of the blue he gets a call from his brother, Moriah, who wants to come live with him. Gideon learns that Moriah's reasons for moving in weren't clear and honest, as he finds Moriah is into drugs. As the tension between them grows, we find out the reason Gideon has run away from his family for so long. When Moriah is found dead, Gideon now must return to the Amish life that he had left behind. What happens when he confronts his dad over issues from their past? Is forgiveness in his future? Take the time to buy this book and find out! Ms. Wisler has created a very mysterious, yet likable character in Gideon. He has so much hidden in his past, but yet he appears to be open to sharing his experiences with Mari. The story that Ms. Wisler has created is very believable and one that keeps you interested from the start. There is so much depth to her characters, that you end up rooting for them as the story progresses. This book is heavy on forgiveness, it was to me, the main theme that ran throughout this book. The forgiveness that Gideon had for Kiki, for his brother, his father and even himself. As he notices later in the book, "the Almighty's arms are wide and merciful enough to forgive even the most guilty of creatures". Is this a "guy's book"? There isn't alot of "action" in the book, but this is a story that all men need to read. Between the emotions that Gideon is trying to hide, and the history that we find out between him and his dad, this story reminds us that we need to be more open with our communications. As I read this book, I reflected on my own relationship with my dad. I have been blessed to have a very close relationship with him and I know that I am who I am because of my relationship with him.
JNelsonFL More than 1 year ago
The prose of this story fits with the premise. It moves from a sparseness that captures the main character's life and slowly grows into a rich and full story. I loved the characters, especially Kiki. This story is intriguing and different than other books I've read. Well worth the buy!!
DebraCollins More than 1 year ago
As an Alice J. Wisler fan, I was expecting yet another great read; needless to say, I wasn't disappointed. "Still Life is Shadows" is a wonderfully crafted and compelling story. It held my heart captivate from the first page until the very last line. I highly recommend this book. You don't want to miss this one!
StorytellerKL More than 1 year ago
An Eye-Opening Read: Alice Wisler's latest book, Still Life in Shadows, captures a clear glimpse into the Amish life. Every beautifully placed word written on Alice's pages has a purpose for being there. Each scene leads up to the overall meaning of the story, which I believe is the cleansing power of forgiveness. She is in no way devaluing the Amish way of life, but rather shedding light on the pain that some endure. I don't feel her goal in writing this story was to criticize any which way of life. She shows the pros and cons of both sides of the fence. She speaks truth. She doesn't blur the image to make it seem more perfect for one side over the other. But rather she exemplifies the need for moderation in this life. In the end, I believe Alice's purpose in writing this story was not to place blame, but to show how the evil on either side can destroy people when we take our eyes off the ultimate focal point--God. A huge thank you goes to the author for sending me a sneak-peak of what's to come for her readers. Believe me when I tell you, Still Life in Shadows is worth the wait. You will fall in love with the real-life characters and will be cheering them on the whole way. Their caring support of each other gives the real depiction of what a family looks like, even if it's not what their society says. And with their eyes focused on God, they can't help but to prosper in whatever community they choose to live in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure why the previous reviewer rated this book 1 star when the free version was clearly labeled in block letters : SAMPLER. Too many readers nowadays expect free books. What about the time and effort it takes a writer to write a full-length book? "A workman is worthy of his wages..."
makniknak More than 1 year ago
I've always been interesting in the Amish as one of the subcultures here in the United States so I thought this book would be interesting. And it was, Gideon is known as the "Getaway Savior" in the Amish community and he is often contacted by young boys who want to break out and learn how to become "English." Gideon is an interesting character, even though he has "become English" his Amish roots are definitely a part of his life and in some ways, he has not been able to move on as well as much as he thought. It made me happy to see his character come about. This book as other interesting characters and a good story line. It was a bit thin in some places and a little thick in others but over all, it was a good read and well written. I will say there were a couple places where the name "Gideon" was used in place of "Moriah" which was confusing, and should have been caught in the editing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This review is for the SAMPLER only. Don't bother. The description isn't clear, but you only get the first 5 chapters, not 304 pages. Get the full book