Thursday, June 24, 2010
Mary DeMuth's Life in Defiance ~ Reviewed
Life in Defiance: A Novel (Defiance Texas Trilogy)
Mary E. DeMuth
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (May 7, 2010)
In a town she personifies, Ouisie Pepper wrestles with her own defiance. Desperate to become the wife and mother her husband Hap demands, Ouisie pours over a simple book about womanhood, constantly falling short, but determined to improve. Through all that self-improvement, Ouisie carries a terrible secret: she knows who killed Daisy Chance. As her children inch closer to uncovering the killer's identity and Hap's rages roar louder and become increasingly violent, Ouisie has to make a decision. Will she protect her children by telling her secret? Or will Hap's violence silence them all? Set on the backdrop of Defiance, Texas, Ouisie's journey typifies the choices we all face---whether to tell the truth about secrets and fight for the truth or bury them forever and live with the violent consequences.
“…God is the one who carves us, Ouisie. He chips away at all that rock until we’re better. More whole.” (p. 202)
Ouisie Pepper is a character who has had a life carved into a million jagged pieces by the brutality of her husband’s malice. She clings to the hope that God is real, that He cares for her, and that He has promised to bring resurrection to her broken
heart, her broken marriage, and her empty existence. In the final book of the Defiance Texas Trilogy, Life in Defiance, Mary DeMuth explores the depths of the Pepper family’s dysfunction through the eyes of Ouisie. DeMuth comes full circle as she rounds out this series, because it was Daisy Chain that first introduced
us to the Pepper family’s problems through the eyes of their son Jed. Then, in A Slow Burn, Ouisie was one of the tools God used to reach out to redeem Emory, and it gave us a further glimpse into the horror of Ouisie’s day-to-day existence.
And now, as we enter into Life in Defiance, Ouisie is embroiled in both a physical and spiritual battle to survive and thrive. Whether or not she will do either is a topic that will bludgeon your heart from first page to last.
First of all, I have to begin by saying that Ouisie has a tremendous amount of endurance sewn into her character. She understands something about grace and forgiveness that seems hard to me even now. Befriending a woman who had an affair with your husband already reaches beyond what I picture myself capable of accomplishing, but staying with Hap Pepper as long as she did…well, I just think I would have killed him a long time ago. I have never in my life so thoroughly despised a fictional character like I do Hap Pepper. Ouisie’s guilt over the fact that somehow the abuse she suffers is something she brings upon herself almost becomes a character in itself, and serves as the catalyst for her “How to be a Godly Wife” bible study.(Sheba, the author, is another character I completely despised by the way!) It is amazing and sadly true that many folks have learned to use God’s Word as a battering ram to drive people into some very hellish and ungodly places.
I’m getting off track here. Bottom line, Ouisie is desperately struggling to find peace and wholeness – two things she has hasn’t known in her life since her father died when she was seven. Her children try to love her, and they do reach out to her with far greater wisdom than many adults. However, the vile presence of Hap rips every single shred of hope from their lives. God then does what He always does for his children – He brings help and hope from very unlikely sources to reach out, to teach, to help and to heal. This process is neither pretty nor painless. It’s actually very brutal and ugly. Yet God is indeed in the midst of it all, and grace is exhibited - both given and received – in a very real way.
Folks, please listen. Both substance abuse and physical abuse are real weapons of a very deadly enemy. But God is greater than all of that pain and imprisonment. I have seen lives transformed and changed over and over again – delivered from these hellish taskmasters. Life in Defiance is Ouisie’s story, but it is also the struggle of every man, woman and child who must come to the throne of grace - broken, dirty, unworthy, and totally helpless to help themselves. God’s love reaches Ouisie and her family. His grace is sufficient in every single circumstance of our life. Always.
Reviewed by: Kim Ford