A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The following will serve as part review, part confessional. I started this book two years ago this month. I began reading A Time to Die after reading a recommendation from a friend of mine. I began reading it, hoping for a book that would immediately hold me captive and not release me from its powers until I had finished the journey.
The book held me captive, however, it was not in the way I was expecting. I recognized much of Parvin in myself. Reading this book, written in first-person present-tense, was like experiencing a dream. Parvin was convinced her life had no meaning, that she had wasted her life. She wanted her life to mean something, but when she was presented with opportunities to create meaning, she pushed back and tried to find an easier way. I often find myself in the same situation: wanting to be brave, wanting to stand up for what is right, wanting to make a difference, act as someone with integrity, etc. However, when I realize what that will mean for me, giving up my selfish desires and choosing to work outside my comfort zone, I dig in my heals.
The reader will experience some intense moments as she reads about Parvin's journey. For someone who is very much a feeler, it was difficult to read at times. I will confess, I dug in my heels, put it down for an emotional breather, thus escaping from its captivating hold, and left it for two years.
I followed the author on Facebook and her blog during these past two years and she impressed me with her intentionality in the way she interacts with her readers and followers. Her posts are a shining light in the cynical, angry world of Facebook. One of the central themes in A Time to Die is the idea of bringing God’s “Shalom” or a peace that comes from living the way God intended. This is not simply something she wrote about for the purpose of her story. It is something she intentionally, and actively, lives out in her everyday writing.
I was blessed by this author’s shining light, and it was because of this that I eventually decided to finish the book. There were some challenging moments, as I felt my own character developing right alongside Parvin’s. This book contains some perplexing characters with very flawed thinking. I understood her frustration as she struggled to reason with them, to share the Shalom of God with them. There were also beautiful moments, as the events and interactions which pushed at Parvin's (and my own) comfort and worldview gave way to show God's incredible love for His people.
This is NOT a light read, and you will want to take some breathers. However, there were also some lighter moments, and I appreciated Parvin's inner dialogue with herself whenever she tried to problem-solve or understand a situation. She is an eighteen-year-old girl that has been, quite literally, pushed out of her world. She is experiencing everything for the first time, by herself, which leads to some amusing moments as she tries to figure out how to respond. The writing was beautiful, and the ending perfectly sets up the sequels.
As difficult as it was to read, I can only imagine how difficult it was to write. Well done, and thank you, Nadine Brandes for sharing this story with us. Forgive me for taking such a long time. I will be reading the other two books, hopefully in less than two years. ;-)
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