The Dwelling Place

Published By: Bethany House Publishers

Book Category: Fiction, Christian

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Reviewed by Elizabeth Wheeler

Ellie Bartholomew is a twenty-year-old with a lot of issues. As the youngest of three daughters, she feels she's an embarrassment to her family—not just because of her facial scars or deviant behavior, but because she never says the right thing and doesn't hold to the family's religious "babble." She avoids her family and finds comfort in nearly all lost causes like stray animals, the Atlanta Braves and emotionally-scarred neighbors.

The Dwelling Place is her unraveling of her family history—an assignment from rehab. But it's a more mature telling of the story than the immature and rebellious Ellie we meet in chapter one. Her assignment is completed only after an intense summer dealing with her mother and caring for her during chemotherapy's awful aftermath.

Ellie has spent the last several years of her life despising her parents for what they let happen to her as a child. Her bitterness and feelings of betrayal have caused her to build additional walls with her parents and sisters. And her assumptions of their "perfect" lives make her feel like even more of an outcast—because the hell she's been through has left her anything but perfect.

Musser does an incredible job of involving the reader. The writing is conversational—where you feel a part of the story naturally. The unfolding of the story is seamless; Musser grabs the reader from the second sentence of the prologue when she hints at scandal. Ellie is a narrator one can relat
to—the emotions felt of betrayal, unhappiness, and insecurity. The conflict between perception versus reality and the unveiling of truth is so well done in this novel. The characterizations make you care and cry and the researchmakes the book that much more fascinating and personal. I was really impressed with The Dwelling Place and plan on reading Musser's first book, The Swan House. Armchair Interviews agrees.

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