Friday, October 12, 2012

Wisler, Alice J. Still Life in Shadows. Chicago: River North Fiction, 7/24/2012. 298 (pp) ISBN-10: 0802406262   ISBN-13: 978- 0802406262  $14.99    AISN: B00836T3AG   $9.99
Fifteen years ago Gideon left his Amish roots and people just outside Carlisle, Pennsylvania, even before his “rumspringa,” to make his way in the “Englischer” world. Gideon settles in the small town of Twin Branches near the mountains in North Carolina. His hands will never again be clean as they bear the permanent oil stains around his fingernails from repairing automobiles.
Since he left home, he has become the “Getaway Savior” for other boys and young men seeking to escape the “ordnung”  - the order, discipline and rules - of the Amish. Gideon, though able to help others achieve a more fulfilling life, carries within himself the hatred and anger that he wears every bit as ritually as the suspenders and straw hat he left behind.
When Kiki, a teen with autism, comes into his automotive shop wanting work repairing bicycles, Gideon struggles to accept her. Even though he goes to the tea shop every day to find himself in the warmth of hot green tea and the warm brown eyes of Kiki’s sister Mari.
It  is not until his younger brother, Moriah, crashes into his home and life, that Gideon comes face to face with himself, with his anger, and with God. Only now does he realize how deeply he needs to forgive - to forgive his father, God, and most especially himself.

All of us strive to one degree or another with the past. In some ways, we all see ourselves as “different” and needing to be something other than what we are in order to belong. Most of us wrangle with the ability to help everyone, except those closest to us.
Alice J. Wisler was born in Osaka, Japan. Her parents were career Presbyterian missionaries. Alice went to Eastern Mennonite University after graduating from the Canadian Academy, an international high school in Kobe, Japan.

With warmth, and even humor, Wisler holds up a mirror where one sees not only the scars, and shortcomings, but the need for God and one another, the need to find a place where one belongs. Without a wasted word or emotion, Wisler captures our humanity.

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