Review: In The Stillness by Andrea Randall - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

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Review: In The Stillness by Andrea Randall

  • Stars: 5 stars.
  • Main Characters: Natalie Collins, Eric Johnson, Ryker Manning
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Romance

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Synopsis

Natalie is a wife.
Natalie is a mother.
Natalie is a cutter.

Clawing at walls built by resentment, regret, and guilt, Natalie cuts as an escape from a life she never planned. 

Staying present is only possible when you let go of the past. But, what if the past won’t let go of you?

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My Review

“I don’t think too far down that road as I deliberately carve three lines into my soft, shiny skin. It’s hurts at first. Like hell. But a second later, it’s gone–just gone–and I’m left with a visual reminder for the rest of the day that I’m in control of my pain, anxiety and fear.”

Many times it’s heartbreaking and even depressing to read. It’s painfully sad, but it’s beautiful at the same time and beautifully written. I have to say, that the first 20% of the book was difficult for me to get through and I wondered if I could make it through the whole thing. As a wife and mother (of a 4-year-old boy, in fact), I was so saddened by everything she felt, by her need to cut, by the despondent life that was now hers… the life she never intended for herself. It really weighed heavily on me. In retrospect, however, now that I completed the book, I think it’s necessary to see those raw, painful emotions emblazoned so vividly in the early pages of the book, so that the plot can build and evolve from there.

The story poignantly unfolds with alternating present/past chapters that layer how current-day emotions have been shaped by past experiences. First off, we see just how despondent Natalie feels, overwhelmed by being a stay-at-home mother to twin 4-year-old boys, while her husband, Eric finishes his graduate program (in her eyes, robbing her of the opportunity to work herself). Her melancholy is palpable, her sadness consuming. Cutting is her coping mechanism–her much-needed release of pressure–her attempt at controlling everyday pain. She pines for the Natalie she used to be…

“She just packed right up and vacated the part of my spirit that mattered– that made me … me. That’s when my twenty-year-old self started whispering that I could buy ten razors for something like three dollars at Walmart. She’s a crazy bitch, but she’s right.”

59445258-woman-crying

And lately, she’s had enough. The past begins to materialize and haunt her again and that’s when we learn about Natalie and Ryker. They fell in love in college, with him kissing her the first moment he saw her. It was a new relationship, blossoming, but already full of passion and hope…and then September 11th happened and everything changed. Ryker and his best friend Lucas enlisted in the National Guard and were deployed in Afghanistan. Their time apart, while only spanning months, was life-altering for them both. I won’t tell you everything that happened, but they are both forever changed by Ryker’s departure, and in turn, his coming home.

“His body came home, but his soul had been devoured in the firefight
of a godless desert.”

As the story continues, problems with her marriage escalate and she’s determined to leave Eric, hating her life more and more each day. Reading the parts where Eric and Natalie argue are heart-breaking. As a third person watching it all unfold, I cringed at their hateful words and was saddened by the vicious cycle of arguing with words harshly said that they couldn’t take back. I felt bad for both husband and wife … neither of them was happy and both were becoming more callous towards each other.

“I feel like a caged animal, rabid with need for freedom that was stolen from me over one careless night in grad school.”

And then things get worse before they get better…

“Change never comes slowly, brewing on the horizon. It’s always in a second. Balanced on the tip of a razor blade.”

… but one day, she unexpectedly sees Ryker after 10 years…

What remains of the book is incredibly intense. So many things happen that push Natalie deeper into depression, into cutting, into being crushed by overpowering guilt.

“The thing about guilt is, no one can take it away for you; you have to unpack it yourself”

And just when things hit rock bottom, Natalie begins to dig out, slowly. And she needs to find a reason to heal for HERSELF.

Natalie tries to come to term not only with the present situation with her husband and her boys, but also with the past… with the hurt and anger she’s carried for Ryker. She knows that Ryker was the person she loved the most in the world … and still loves.

“[Ryker] wasn’t just my college boyfriend. He was the absolute love of my life.”

I cried through most of the last 20% of the book. I felt like I had to actually release the pressure I was feeling from reading such a raw and powerful book. But yes, there is a HEA… thank God… and in the end, I felt happy and hopeful. This won’t be a book I will soon forget. Absolutely-punch-you-in-the-gut real.

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3 Comments:


  1. Caitlin said:

    Great review! I loved this book, more than I thought as it lingers in my mind….And while I hated to see Natalie go through ten years of heartache I was happy to see it play out that way because Ryker and Natalie needed that time to heal and figure everything out because it was true, their story wasnt over.

    Reply

      1. Caitlin said:

        Agreed!!!! It would be nice to see where they ended up

        Reply

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