Still the Storm
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Still the Storm
Author: Loreen Plett Zehr
Major Themes: Mexico, Old Colony Mennonites, Russian Mennonites, Drunkenness, Dysfunctional Family
Synopsis: Tina’s life in a drunken, dysfunctional, desperately poor family left her longing for something better . . . but what could it be, and was it possible to find any better way of life?
When I saw Still the Storm in the catalog, I knew I wanted to read it—for two reasons. One, I had read two previous books by Loreen Plett Zehr and found them excellent and engrossing, and two, I have been quite interested in the Old Colony Mennonites ever since my family became very good friends with a family from that background, in the late 1980s. I expected this to be a good book, too, and I was not disappointed.
As a little girl growing up in Mexico, Tina’s life was one of turmoil. Her parents were drunk most of the time, and there was very little food in the house. She and her siblings were happy when they could scavenge some beans from other people’s fields, as then they would have food. Sometimes, Mom stayed sober for several days and then things weren’t as hopeless. However, soon Dad would bring home more bottles and the two would hole up in the bedroom for days in a drunken stupor. How Tina wished life would be different!
When Tina was old enough to go to school, she knew she wouldn’t be able to learn to read. Sure enough, within a day or two the teacher declared that she was “another stupid Harms.” The family was given a Bible story book, and though she could not read it, Tina studied the picture of the Man on the Cross over and over—what did it mean? No one could explain it to her.
One move after another brought hope to the family—and then they descended into the same horribly cycle of drunkenness, theft, and fighting. Was there any way out? When a young man became interested in Tina, she hoped for a better life. Soon she found herself on the way to repeating her mother’s life—what could she do about it?
This true story has been written in such a way that it almost reads like a novel. It gripped my attention from the first few pages and kept my interest to the very end. I was sure, from reading the Preface, that there would be a happy ending, but it sure took a long time to reach it! The level of darkness and ignorance among the Old Colony Mennonites in Mexico is appalling. I knew some of it before, from talking to a few friends from that background and a relative who went there to help teach English to those dear people. Still the Storm really brings to life, however, the ultimate results of a culture who depend on their customs to give them salvation, and forget about having Jesus as their Savior. It is a powerful story of what God can do for people.
WARNING: Drunkenness and violence are occasionally described, but not graphically, and immorality is alluded to, as part of the real story of these dear people.
Reading Independently—15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy this book:
Keywords: Mexico, Old Colony Mennonites, Russian Mennonites, Drunkenness, Dysfunctional Family, Biographies, Christian Non-Fiction, 1950-2000 History, 21st Century History, Central America, Books for Women, Books for Men, Loreen Plett Zehr