There was so much tragedy in the first few chapters of The Air We Breathe that I had to put it down for a couple of days, and I was a little afraid to pick it up again. But because I had read and appreciated Christa Parrish’s other novels (my reviews: Home Another Way, Watch Over Me), I trusted her enough as an author to know that it would be worth persevering through the hard stuff to get to hear what she wanted to say in this book. And I was not disappointed.
Christa’s books are not always easy to read, but they are honest. She accesses her characters’ deepest emotions and presents them in a way that is beautifully, startlingly raw and vulnerable. She always writes with warmth and compassion.
In this book, I thought she did a particularly good job of incorporating spiritual content in an appealing, unexpected manner. This is Christian fiction done right.
The Air We Breathe is, in my opinion, Christa’s best-written and most “literary” novel to date. She is a talented author, and I look forward to reading more from her.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
In Watch Over Me, Benjamin, now a policeman, but still recovering emotionally from life as a soldier in Afghanistan, finds an abandoned newborn and takes her into his own home. His wife, Abbi, is reluctant to care for the infant, but she slowly adapts to being a mother. Sharing the joys and responsibilities of parenthood is a starting point for healing the couple’s struggling marriage, but the possibility of having the baby taken away if the biological parents are found haunts both Ben and Abbi.
Christa Parrish does an excellent job of following the old writer’s adage, “Show, don’t tell.” She employs an extensive vocabulary, inserting interesting, colorful words just where they are needed. Her characters’ actions and circumstances speak for themselves, providing just enough detail, but not too much. The main characters’ unique backgrounds, quirks, strengths, and weaknesses are well fleshed-out, making each seem real and easy to identify with.
I particularly enjoyed this book’s dialogue, witty in some places, touching in others. It sounds believable, like everyday conversation. The playful banter between Ben and Abbi is fun to read.
Christa Parrish has rapidly become one of my new favorite authors, and I will seek out her books in the future.
My rating: 5/5
Sarah Graham, reckless, rude, and angry, visits the small town where her father recently died, planning to pick up her inheritance and get out fast, but she finds out she’s obligated to stick around for six months if she wants the money. She stays because she’s in desperate need of cash and because she feels she deserves something from the man who killed her mother, leaving her in the care of an unloving, hypocritical grandmother.
As the townspeople demonstrate kindness and love toward Sarah, she slowly begins to let down her guard and actually finds herself being sucked into caring about some of the town’s inhabitants. She also discovers that the father she never knew was not exactly who she thought he was.
Christa Parrish writes colorfully and compassionately. Her characters are memorable, with flaws that make them relatable. The conclusion to the story is optimistic without spelling out every detail. One thing I didn’t care for was the constant switching between first and third person narration, but I got used to it. Overall, Home Another Way is a fantastic debut novel, and I look forward to reading more by Christa Parrish.
My rating: 4/5