Life in Defiance, the third in the Defiance Texas Trilogy by Mary E. DeMuth
The blog tour for this book is not for a few weeks, but I wanted to post my review now while the book is fresh in my mind.
From the back cover:
The killing of Daisy Chance continues to haunt Defiance, Texas, even as Ouisie Pepper wrestles with a defiance of her own. Desperate to become the wife and mother her husband Hap demands, Ouisie pours over a simple book about womanhood. She is sure that if she can just perfect herself, she will calm her husband's rages--and maybe even stop drinking herself.
In the midst of her constant attempts at self-improvement, Ouisie carries a terrible burden: she knows who killed Daisy Chance. And she refuses to tell. 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 the anger she fears silence them all?
Set on the backdrop of Defiance, Texas, this compelling suspense novel is rich in relationships and soul questions. It is about a choice we will all face sooner or later: whether to reveal the truth or live with the consequences of burying it forever.
It is hard to know what to write in a review of the much-anticipated third book in a trilogy suspense series without violating my own Cardinal Rule: Don't spoil the ending of a book.
As with both of the other books in this series, Life in Defiance is wonderfully crafted and beautifully written. Art. Beauty. Even the title is symbolic.
Mary DeMuth's writing certainly does not disappoint. Once again we can taste the dust, feel the bruises on a chilly winter day, and strongly sympathize with our narrator. In fact, I found Ouisie Pepper to be the character out of this whole series with whom I identify the most strongly.* I identified with Ouisie for her desire to please others. I identified with her never-ending quest for perfecting herself. And I identified with her reluctance to lead the Bible study.
In my other reviews, I mentioned that other book reviewers seemed to throw the word redemption around like confetti when writing about the first two books. I am very happy to say that I found it in this novel, at last. There is a turning point scene at Lake Pisgah marking the beginning of the end of the novel for me, and it made me cry it was so beautiful.
As I read this novel, I kept picturing a scene from Mary's book trailer for Thin Places, of her walking on a Texas road. With Mary's writing, it's all about the journey, not the destination. For those who are anxious to find out who killed Daisy, I know your impatience. I felt the anxious waiting myself! But don't skip the descriptions. Don't forsake the journey for the destination.
Just a note about the mystery at hand. I am happy to report that the mystery is solved well, and it was not who I suspected it was. This makes me happy, because there's nothing worse than an implausible ending to a mystery. Stump me without a red herring or a deus ex machina and I'm a happy reader.
* = (I feel compelled to make this disclaimer for my friends and family who read this: No, I don't drink, and my minister husband is most definitely not abusive.)
Mary is known both for her moving fiction and her nonfiction parenting books. She's one of those rare authors who can write both and write them well.
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