Saturday, December 31, 2016

Review: Of Stillness and Storm

Of Stillness and Storm
By Michèle Phoenix
Thomas Nelson, 2016


"I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing."

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream---reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family's undoing.

At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren's past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It's thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.

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My thoughts

If I had a complaint, it would be that the time span between one Michèle Phoenix story and the next is too long by far. But I guess that’s really a compliment, in a roundabout way. Michèle’s previous novel, In Broken Places, is one of my all-time favorites (please click on title to see my review).

Of Stillness and Storm is a story that continues to linger in my mind. It’s about relationships, physical and spiritual. It is beautifully crafted in a style that skillfully blends exquisite narrative, literary quality, candid themes, and emotional depth. With rawness and honesty, it plumbs the depths of commitment to family and God. This is not a light or easy read – but it’s a haunting and thought-provoking one.

Of Stillness and Storm is the story of Sam, Lauren, and 13-year old Ryan, a missionary family dedicated to reaching the distant villages and tribes of Nepal – and of Aiden, a friend from Lauren’s past that she reconnects with online.  Backstory passages make us privy to all that has led them to this place in time.


“Though Sam felt called to the Nepali people,
I felt called to protecting our son.”
- Lauren

I loved the complexity of these characters. Sam had always had a vision of global impact and to him, deprivations were a badge of honor. I understood Sam’s passion and admired his drive to reach the Nepali people, yet I struggled to like him. I so badly wanted to reach out and shake some sense into him, yet I knew such effort would result in failure. Lauren’s heart is for her son, but she is bewildered and at a loss by the changes she sees in Ryan, and it’s not long before we witness a family in crisis.

There’s so much upon which to reflect in this story – for instance, God’s will or man’s desire, blurred lines between ministry and marriage, submission, the unwitting effect of parents’ decisions on children. I loved this quote by Lauren during a conversation with Sam: “I tend to think that who we become because of our faith is more important than what we do to prove it.” I was kind of taken aback by the ending, yet it reflected the gritty realness of this story, and I actually saw it coming.

Of Stillness and Storm speaks of something that Lauren discovered and that I take joy in every day … that out of darkness and loss emerges a “relentless, demanding, trustworthy, benevolent, and healing God.” Oh, for more stories like this in Christian fiction!

Highly recommended.

I was provided a free copy of this book through Litfuse Publicity. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Born in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michèle Phoenix is a consultant, writer and speaker with a heart for Third Culture Kids. She taught for 20 years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own advocacy venture under Global Outreach Mission. Michèle travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, Marvel movies and paths to healing.

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  1. Carole, your review has me wanting to read Ms. Phoeix's books. Thank you for introducing me to another fabulous author.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Caryl, so glad you read my review! In this book, Michele writes out of a passion for children of missionary families. It's quite different and I really liked it, but realize that everyone has differing tastes. You should definitely read the other book I mentioned, In Broken Places, for I believe you would love it. Happy New Year, Caryl!

  2. i completely agree with everything you said, my friend!

    1. Thank you so much, Miss Carrie! I wouldn't let myself read your review when you first posted it, but I did check to see if you liked it. Then I went back and read your thoughts this morning and discovered that we did indeed think alike on this one. Aren't we having fun, dear friend?!

  3. Hi Carole, this sounds like a wonderful novel. I've never heard of this author before. I'll have to check her books out. Glad I stopped by. Happy New Year! : )

    1. So glad you stopped by, Cathy! I discovered Michele when I elected to review In Broken Places not long after I started my blog - back in 2013, I guess. It's still one of the best I've ever read. This one is quite different, but excellent as well. Michele writes out of her passion for children of missionaries on the field. The happiest of New Years to you also, Cathy!