Review of Nothing But Life by B. van Staalduinen; artwork by L. Klassen; sign up for April 27 chat with D. Bursch on Posting Peace.
Nothing But Life
By Brent van Staalduinen. Dundurn, 2021. 304 pages. $15 (e-book $8, audio $20)
WE’VE ALL seen the news stories, felt the familiar drop in our stomachs when we read about yet another school shooting. Gun violence is a terrible reality in North America, and Ontario author Brent van Staalduinen brings this reality to life through the voice of a teenage survivor of a school shooting in his new young adult novel Nothing But Life.
The novel paints a vivid picture of the aftereffects of a school shooting. The main character Dils is trying to move on with his life, but something as violent as a school shooting is bound to follow you, especially when the shooter is your stepfather.
The first-person perspective of Dils is well written and accurately depicts the inner workings of a teenage boy’s mind. Being so privy to the protagonist’s thoughts and feelings helps the reader experience the story personally.
But at times the inner dialogue overshadows the story, slowing the pace too much. Christian readers should be aware this novel is not written from a Christian perspective and contains swearing.
What stands out is the importance of family and friends during tragedy. Dils finds comfort and healing in these relationships as he struggles through his trauma. Van Staalduinen’s characters are full of depth, and the relationships between them are well developed and strong. –CHRISSY M. DENNIS
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"As an artist and a Canadian, I’m so grateful for the beauty of nature that surrounds us. Creation is a holy sanctuary for me and a place where I can worship the Creator. This translates into my work of silver birch trees that I am drawn to paint many times over through the years."
The Way Through (36 × 36″, mixed media on canvas)
by Lianna Klassen
SMALL PRESS ROUNDUP
- The Anglican Network in Canada: Protest, Providence, and Promise in Global Anglican Realignment, ed. George Egerton et al. (Anglican House, 2021). Essays and reflections by J. I. Packer, Edith Humphrey, George Sinclair, Charlie Masters, Alastair Sterne and more.
- The Rogue Wave: A Novel by Paul Mason (Now or Never, 2021). Fast-paced science fiction by an Ontario actor, novelist and playwright informed by Christian belief, but occasionally profane.
- A Short History of Christian Zionism: From the Reformation to the Twenty-First Century by Donald M. Lewis (IVP Academic, 2021). Author taught at Regent College since 1981 and died in October.
- Queer Prophets: The Bible’s Surprise Ending to the Story of Sexuality and Gender by Greg Paul (Wipf & Stock, 2020). Author is founder of Sanctuary, an inner-city community in Toronto.
- The Nicene Option: An Incarnational Phenomenology by James K. A. Smith (Baylor University Press, 2021). Canadian author is professor of philosophy at Calvin University and editor in chief of the literary quarterly Image.
- Stumbling Heavenward: One Philosopher’s Journey by Elmer John Thiessen (Mill Lake Books, 2021). Memoir of a Canadian Mennonite scholar who tackled conflicts between science and religion.
- Woman On a Mission: Katherine Bell Fraser in Armenia, 1892–1897: From Christian Missionary to Refugee Advocate by Andria Hill-Lehr (Nimbus, 2021). True story of a young Nova Scotia woman who found herself witness to the Armenian genocide in the 19th century.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Sign up to join our next online discussion with Douglas Bursch, author of Posting Peace: Why Social Media Divides Us and What We Can Do About It (IVP Books, 2021). Why not get a copy of his book to read in advance of the event? Bursch will join book lovers Bill Fledderus of Faith Today and Ilana Reimer of Love Is Moving on April 27, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
Sign up at www.TheEFC.ca/MeetTheAuthor.
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