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Long before anyone would christen it “The Dust Bowl,” Nola Merrill senses the destruction. She’s been drying up bit by bit since the day her mother died, leaving her to be raised by a father who withholds his affection the way God keeps a grip on the Oklahoma rain. A hasty marriage to Russ, a young preacher, didn’t bring the escape she desired. Now, twelve years later with two children to raise, new seeds of dissatisfaction take root.

When Jim, a mysterious drifter and long-lost friend from her husband’s past, takes refuge in their home, Nola slowly springs to life under his attentions until a single, reckless encounter brings her to commit the ultimate betrayal of her marriage. For months Nola withers in the wake of the sin she so desperately tries to bury. Guilt and shame consume her physically and spiritually, until an opportunity arises that will bring the family far from the drought and dust of Oklahoma. Or so she thinks. As the storms follow, she is consumed with the burden of her sin and confesses all, hoping to find Russ’s love strong enough to stand the test.

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On Shifting Sand by Allison Pittman is Christian historical fiction of great depth. The story is told in the first person by Nola Merrill, a pastor’s wife in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years. We see the devastation of life in a small town as that life literally dries up around Nola. I had not read anything of this detail about the Dust Bowl years and the harsh realities of it were quite eye-opening for me. Not only is Nola’s physical life drying up but she is also dealing with temptation to the life of her marriage. Nola is a Christian and through all the doubts, insecurities and trials, she holds on to the security of her salvation even as she is nearly overcome by her human frailties. I read the book in two days, not wanting to put it down until there was resolution. I highly recommend the book. I received a copy of the book from the author and publisher by way of The Book Club Network ( in exchange for an honest review.

“I can testify only to being a woman who’s stepped into a storm, just like Rosalie, looking for something elusive and lost. What does it matter that I might die? Better I should than to wander, choked but not killed by my sin,” Nola acknowledges in Allison Pittman’s novel, "On Shifting Sand." This four hundred and sixteen page paperback targets those who enjoy historical romance involving the Dust Bowl years. With no graphic sexual scenes or violence, the topic of anorexia, adultery, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. This reader wishes all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence. The ending includes author’s notes, discussion questions, the first chapter of a previous book, and the author’s biography. After being a teacher for seventeen years, author Pittman has written over a dozen Christian novels, mainly focusing on historical fiction. Winner of several awards, she and her family live in Texas. In this sad but poignant story written in first person, Nola Merrill has always felt unforgiven as she tries to survive in the 1930s in dusty and barren Oklahoma. Having a callous father, she prematurely marries Russ, a young preacher who seeks God’s will in his life and marriage. When Russ’s buddy stays with the family against Nola’s wishes, not only does she keep secrets from her spouse, but she begins an adulterous relationship that she fears cannot be stopped. As God shifts the wind-blown land around her, she becomes battered and broken, finding only discarded dirt in her mind, body, and soul. As she hides her sin deeper within, physically, mentally, and spiritually she feels a loss of purpose. Knowing she must confess her wayward heart and actions, she continues to make promises that are broken to both Russ and God. Contemplating she is the cause of what happens around her, she must find inner peace and forgiveness. Told from lonely and self-abasing viewpoint, Nola’s acceptance of her wrongdoings has an effect on others as guilt, blame, and self-doubt surface within her family. Praying her husband will continue to love her, she must truly thirst for the Lord to feel refreshed and whole again. Written with a heartbrokenness that turns to hope, the story grasps the reader’s inner core when it comes to a defiled marriage that needs redemption. Although not a normal Christian topic often discussed, the humanness of man’s deprivation shows the desperate need for God. Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for furnishing this complimentary book in exchange for a review based on the reader’s opinions.