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On Shifting Sand

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  188 ratings  ·  74 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 383 pages
Published April 1st 2015 by Tyndale House Publishers (first published March 20th 2015)
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3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  188 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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Jocelyn Green
Some books I race to the end in order to see how it all turns out. This one, I slowed down. I wanted it to last. The ending is one of the most satisfying conclusions I've ever read. The writing in this book is SO good, when I finished reading it I just wanted to lie down on the floor, spread eagle, and absorb all the goodness somehow. I want to write like Allison Pittman when I grow up.
Jan 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
One thing I really appreciate is when authors take the hard topics head on. While it doesn’t always make for an easy read, I don’t think we can ignore them. Our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers, our church going friends…these are things that happen and I’m thankful for authors who want to bring that to light.

As I’ve said, I really appreciated the topic because it’s one never really spoken about in church circles from this point of view. Is adultery the end of a marriage? How could a Chr
This is my first time reading an Allison Pittman novel so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. I did know what I was getting into, however, with the synopsis so nothing really surprised me. I knew Nola was going to be unfaithful to her husband. I knew they were living through the Dust Bowl, of which I knew practically nothing. And I knew that somewhere in this story, the seed of redemption and forgiveness would be planted. I was right on all three counts.

I suspect that a lot of readers will str
Since the day her mother died, Nola Merrill has been drying up inside. Left with a harsh father that withholds affection, Nola escapes into a hasty marriage to Russ, a young preacher. Twelve years and two children later, Nola can’t shake the dissatisfaction that is once again seeping into her life. When Jim, a drifter and long-lost friend from Russ’s past, appears, she can’t help but find life under his attentions, leading her to commit the ultimate betrayal of her marriage and Russ’s love. In t ...more
Shari Larsen
Long before the Dust Bowl hit their small town in Oklahoma, Nola Merrill feels like she's been drying up bit by bit ever since the day her mother died, leaving her to be raised by her stern father. A hasty to marriage to Russ, a young preacher, didn't bring her the escape she desired, and twelve years later, with two children to raise, dissatisfaction with her life takes hold of her once again.

When Jim, a mysterious drifter and a long loss friend of her husband's takes refuge in their home durin
Aug 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
On Shifting Sand was a modern day story of Job. While I enjoyed that parallel and the symbolism throughout the story, I never fully connected or got engaged in the story. Nola was difficult to relate to.

This is my second Allison Pittman novel. I enjoyed the first one much more than this novel and look forward to reading her other works.
Emma Jane
Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: never-finished
It isn't often that I can't decide what to say about a book. I'm still not sure what I think of this one. It's a good story, it's quite well-written, and yet-- I just didn't like it. Most of that, I know, is because it's written in the dreaded present-tense, which I really dislike reading. It often makes me confused, and it annoys me so much that it's just plain distracting. I know I would have gotten much more from this book if it hadn't been written this way.

Another reason why I didn't parti
Jalynn Patterson
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
On Shifting Sand

About the Book:

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
Rambling Readers
May 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I could almost feel the sting of dust particles as I read Allison Pittman's newest release "On Shifting Sand." Novel after novel, Pittman proves herself more than adept at creating plots that will impact readers into the depths of their hearts. Every aspect, from the history to the setting to the characters, is created in fully-developed detail. I never know what path one of Pittman's novels will take, but I know that I will always find history, pain, depth, hope, and faith along the way.

Set d
Tanya Harrison
Very impressed with this book. The depiction of Oklahoma in the trying days of the Dust Bowl are unbelievable. I can't imagine living under those conditions and I am from Oklahoma. The horror of drowning from sand just from being outside when the storm came. Just the visualization of people having to place wet cloths in or around their mouths and nose just to keep the sand out when a storm came. But I think the author does give an accurate account of what life was like living in the Dust Bowl, a ...more
Jackie McNutt
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was struck by the intensity of this book, both by the emotional, physical and spiritual struggles for survival that the characters endured, but also for the captivating story line.
This is more than a story of hardship, but also of the undying faith of one, and the hard fought battle of the mind and heart of the other.
As a woman I could deeply relate to the character of Nola for she struggled with many emotional issues that women face everyday, the consequences of our choices for good or bad, a
Catherine Richmond
Denola is trapped in 1930s Oklahoma with a bitter father, a husband who makes major decisions without consulting her, and a congregation who hasn't accepted her as their beloved pastor's wife. She's losing the battle against dust storms and against her attraction to a drifter. Such a grim story is only made readable by the adept writing of Allison Pittman.
I did not enjoy this book at all. However, it's not a bad book. It just wasn't for me. I thought it was really boring, and since I hated our narrator Nola, AND she tells the story in present tense, it made me dislike the book, too. She does have a clear voice, and she's certainly not a cardboard character, which is one of my pet peeves, but she's annoying and a liar. She is an unreliable narrator.

That being said, one thing I really liked was that the author never questions that Nola is a Christi
Dianna (SavingsInSeconds blog)
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. Opinions shared are mine.

Doesn’t the On Shifting Sand book cover take your breath away? It has instant drama factor. In classic Allison Pittman style, the characters in this book are real, raw, and almost tangible. From the very start of the book, I connected with Nola. She was an exhausted mom who stole away moments to herself, trying to rush around for nighttime prayer or wondering how her blush of youth was gone so quickly. My heart cau
Victoria Wier
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well Written Depression Era Drama

I feel as if I’m on shifting sand rating this book. On one hand the details gave me insight to life in the dust bowl, her description were so effective at times I could feel the dust invading, imagine the suffocating effects. Yet on the other hand I despised Nola and her inability to walk away from temptation it made me sick. But isn’t that a sign of a good writer I felt emotions while reading instead of just mindlessly consuming the words. I wouldn’t recommend
Spencer Riley
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think this is the first book I've read that takes place during the dust bowl. I learned a lot--which is a given in historical fiction (for me anyway.)

The first person narration drew me into the story immediately. Seeing life through Nola Merrill''s eyes made me feel her angst, and understand her disgust. She is a flawed character, and she'll stay with me for some time. Dealing with adultery--not a topic I usually read about--the story offers an emotional rollercoaster, and showcases mercy and
Joy Kidney
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
The title references the allegory of the Dust Bowl miseries in Oklahoma with a agonies of an unfaithful wife and mother caught in both. Interestingly written in first person present tense, the author captures Nola's background (losing her mother, a cruel father) and dust-filled life and insecurities. Married to a pastor, Nola struggles with accusations from her father, poverty, never-ending grit and dust, infidelity, and guilt. Her angst is almost overdone, but the healing process is well though ...more
Hannah Corner
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You HAVE to read this!!! This book is set in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl. I've never read anything in this time period before, and it was eye-opening! The sickness and starvation that people had to deal with is awful. It took dedication and commitment to survive this time. This story deals with despair and depression, love and forgiveness, temptation and desire, and faith. It is raw and real and spoke to me in so many ways. I cannot put into words just what my heart is still meditating on afte ...more
Kristina Seleshanko
Such a powerful story of life in the Dust Bowl, but more importantly, of forgiveness. Pittman tackles the subject of adultery with care and wisdom, and the topic of guilt and grace with beauty. I highly recommend this book.
Carolyn Tye
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well written novel.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very powerful story about forgiveness. Loved how it was written in first person. Living in Oklahoma I especially found the dust bowl interesting.
Lily Emerson
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Well written, but I felt like it focused more on the sin than the grace
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a gritty, realistic story set in the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma, about a woman who succumbs to temptation and longs for full restoration, not only from God but from her husband.
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Nola Merrill is dissatisfied with her marriage, which is true to her character as she clearly has never been truly satisfied with anything in her life. Her life with her father was not what she wanted it to be, and her escape from him to her husband Russ did nothing to permanently ease her dissatisfaction. Because she is so selfish, it is hard to care about her. We can partially understand the reasoning behind her behavior, given her past, but Nola clearly uses that as an excuse for her sins. A ...more
Kelsey Messner
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it

Nola Merrill longed to leave her small hometown in Oklahoma long before the Dust Bowl first barreled through. But her husband, Russ, is the town’s preacher, and maintains that they need to keep their family rooted in the community. To Nola, everything is slipping away--she once dreamed of going to college and having adventures--twelve years after their hasty marriage, Nola and Russ have two children, they live above a shop that makes no money, and Nola watches everyone and everything in h
Kathleen E.
May 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Thursday, May 7, 2015
On Shifting Sand by Allison Pittman, © 2015

I crane my neck, looking for any kind of a familiar landmark, but there are none. No furrowed fields, rippling grass, no head of cattle wandered far from the gate. All the time growing up here, what I liked best was that our family house sat in the deepest part of a shallow valley. Coming in on the road, you might think there was nothing to be found, but then one, two more turns of the tire, and there it was––spread out like the pre
Jennifer Leo
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
While engrossed in Allison Pittman’s latest novel, On Shifting Sand, I continually found myself heading to the kitchen for a tall, cool glass of water to slake my thirst. Yes, it’s been a dry, hot summer here in Idaho, I told myself, but what gives? Then I realized that the cause of my thirst was Allison’s vivid, you-are-there descriptions of daily life in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

“We feel thirst everywhere,” she writes in protagonist Nola’s viewpoint, “–our parched throats, of
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed-books
What I liked:
Learning about the dust bowl and the perils that face that particular part of the country leading up to and during the Great Depression. I remember hearing the term in school, but I don't think we learn about it in any great detail.

It's an easy read- pages go by quickly, but at almost 400 pages, it's a little bit longer book.

The storyline and the outcome of the book is pretty on target for the time period, I feel. I mean it was taboo at that time to have a child out of wedlock, thus
SUMMARY: 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 f
Lisa Johnson
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Title: On Shifting Sand
Author: Allison Pittman
Pages: 416
Year: 2015
Publisher: Tyndale
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
The story is told from the main female character named Nola who lives in Oklahoma with her husband Russ and two young children. As I began reading I remembered a movie I watched which depicted quite realistically the Dust Bowl conditions of the land many years ago. The Dust Bowl is used as a setting by the author to depict both a physical as well as spiritual realities of what life is lik
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Aug 19, 2015 10:54AM  

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Allison Pittman is the author of For Time and Eternity, Stealing Home, the Crossroads of Grace series, and her nonfiction debut, Saturdays With Stella. A high-school English teacher, she serves as director of the theater arts group at her church. She is also the co-president of a dynamic Christian writers group in the San Antonio, Texas area, where she makes her home with her husband and their thr ...more