Culture Shock: How One Girl Challenges Assumptions

ArynChristian Fiction14 Comments

I’ve seen Culture Shock examples a few times, but until I read Past Forward, I had no idea how many cultural assumptions there are in my own life! Nothing quite as dramatic as Willow’s but:

  • If you want me to know something, you will tell me. (drives a few people in my family crazy, because they ask me questions and all I can say is “I don’t know, I didn’t ask” )
  • It’s hard to Enjoy downtime  because my brain is thinking of all the things I “should” be doing.
  • I’m still trying to connect the Christian churches in the United States of America (my only frame of reference) with the Church in the Bible. I can’t grasp the cultural assimilation that has occurred. The focus shift.
  • My suggestion of giving gifts to World Vision or the local Pregnancy Crisis Center, etc, instead of swapping equal value gifts (usually gift cards) between adult siblings was met with disinterest to strong resistance.
  • The person who cut me off needs prayer  because there’s a crisis involved. (I do realize that it may only be a crisis of poor planning or arrogance, but those still merit prayer!)
  • Along the same lines, I don’t get why people believe traffic laws dont apply to them. Speed limits, passing zones, courtesy to emergency vehicles, etc. I get culture shock whenever I go into the city!

Culture Shock in the Bible

We were talking about this in church Sunday, not traffic particularly, but the cultural assumptions that the rules are there for Everyone Else. The purpose of the irrevocable laws of the Medes and Persians was to make the laws apply to everyone equally. No favoritism.

Studying the book of Esther, I can’t imagine how much culture shock Esther experienced! From average citizen to queen  yes, absolutely  But how much more so to go from a moral and kind home to a cruel and selfish one?

Culture Shock Fairbury Style

? *Please note that this post contains affiliate links, where at no extra cost to you, if you purchase through my link, I may receive a small percentage to help support this blogging ministry. I purchased this book years ago, and was given an updated version through Celebrate Lit. I chose to review it here and all thoughts are my own. You can read my full disclosure here.

Past Forward book tour banner

Past Forward: Cultural Assimilation? Or Not!

“Willow, part of what you’re experiencing is culture shock. You and your mother had your own culture. Her death plunged you into another culture. They’re closely related, but whereas you and your mother valued grit and independence, we like to serve others—especially when they are hurting.”

As much as everyone is totally fascinated by who Willow is, their idea of help is Cultural Assimilation. To try to ‘modernize’ her, assuming she wants to start embracing all of the modern ‘conveniences’ of life.

Her response: “If I bought soap, what would I do with my soap-making time?”

Growing up with simple logic, strong faith and a unique way of placing value, Willow constantly causes WOW moments in those around her.

Willow spends her time living sermons, building bridges to friendship, dealing with accidents & sabotage, and the heartache of every First Without Mother.

She goes into her future trying to figure out how much cultural assimilation she will accept, or needs. Definitely, Willow challenges cultural assumptions and causes nearly as much culture shock as she experiences.

Chad is a good guy. In some ways it shows here in volume 1, but in other ways you have to wait. His character development and maturity level rises significantly over the next couple of books! Very well done.

I would recommend this series to you if you like simplicity: simple logic, simple living, simple faith. Also as you get into later volumes, there’s really good examples of how to parent adults and deal with many challenges and a few mysteries.

Other Great Books By Chautona Havig (Reviews)

Past Forward: About Volume 1 (Culture Shock Begins)

Book: Past Forward Volume 1

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Fiction, Romance, Suspense

Release Date: April 19, 2017

Alone without friends or family to comfort her after the death of her mother, Willow Finley’s idyllic life is over—and just beginning.

The Finley women’s lives, while rich and full, aren’t easy. rejecting electricity and many other modern conveniences, they live purposefully and intentionally–alone and isolated from the world around them.

When Willow Finley awakes on a hot summer morning, she is unprepared for the grief that awaits her. Jerked from a life of isolation with her mother, Willow learns what alone really means when she finds her mother dead.

From the moment Willow arrives in the police station with her startling announcement, Chad Tesdall fights the friendship he knows he can’t avoid.

The Past Forward series opens with Willow’s life-changing discovery and gently guides the reader through aspects of her life–the past weaving through the present and into the future. Experience her first morning in church, her first movie, and the culture shock of her first trips to the city. A birthday party and a street faire add welcome diversion from butchering, canning, and the beating of area rugs. Disaster strikes. Will she choose to continue her simple life, or will an offer in the city change it all? Find out in this first volume.

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Author

Chautona HavigChautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona


December 1985. The time had finally come. After two months of living in a run-down motel in Rosamond, California, we were finally moving to our own place. Seventeen miles away.

Just off Highway 58, outside Mojave, California (about the place that Alton Gansky’s, Distant Memory opens), a huge billboard loomed. For the curious, it’s still there today. Aqueduct City.

For the record, there was no city. There still isn’t. Just a dirt road or three. Oh, and the aqueduct. In fact, that’s eventually how we got our water—stole it from the California aqueduct.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

At the edge of all those parcels lay our new land. Twenty-two acres of desert sand, creosote, sage, and a tiny, baby Joshua tree at the end of our long, U-shaped dirt driveway.

I took out that sucker with my first attempt at backing down the drive. It looked like a snake had slithered back and forth across the sandy strip of cleared dirt, and somehow I managed to run over the foot-high tree. It wasn’t often I managed to shock my mother speechless. That was one time. I now have mad back-upping skills. Thought you oughtta know.

On that land, my parents put an 18’ travel trailer.

We hauled in water in 55-gallon drum barrels—first from a friend’s house and later from that aqueduct. It was several miles closer. One of those barrels ended up on top of the trailer for showers. The water pressure depended on how full that sucker was. Navy showers? Ever had one? It goes like so:

  • Turn on water.
  • Make one slow turn under the water to get all wet.
  • Turn it off.
  • Lather up.
  • Shampoo hair.
  • Turn on water.
  • Turn off.
  • Work conditioner into hair.
  • Turn on water.
  • Turn off.
  • Get out.
  • Try to stop your teeth from chattering.

For the record, that chattering is no joke. When it’s twenty degrees out there, water gets cold. And we had no way to heat it.

Our plumbing also included a shovel. For… um… other plumbing needs. Winter was the worst and the best time for the call of nature. Worst because, well, 40 mph winds and twenty-degree weather. Best, because no snakes.

We used Coleman propane lanterns, a propane refrigerator (that sat outside our door), and eventually, a gas-powered generator. Once a week, Dad would fire that thing up so I could iron my church clothes. #darkages

For the curious, summer was blistering hot.

No fans (except for stiff cardboard we used arm-power to operate). No air conditioner. Not even a swamp cooler. Mom and I would go into town and read at the library when we just couldn’t take another minute in 112-degree desert heat. She’d drive me to Lancaster so I could go sit in an air-conditioned movie theater and watch another movie. If it came out in 1986 or 1987 and wasn’t pure smut, I probably saw it. Out of self-preservation.

Before long, I’d been relegated to the “porch.” That consisted of a redwood lattice “patio” enclosure in front of the trailer door. (For those who haven’t figured it out yet, I was the dictionary definition of “trailer trash” in some people’s books.) That space was eight feet wide and sixteen feet long.

I had a twin bed out there. When winter came, dad made sleeping out there more bearable by heating huge rocks in one of those 55-gallon drum barrels and wrapping them in old quilts. That went at the foot of my bed to keep my feet warm.

If only the wind hadn’t blown sand into my hair every night…

What does all of this have to do with Past Forward?

Just this. People have often asked why Willow would choose to live without electricity. Some have said you couldn’t live only five miles outside of town and be so isolated and reclusive.

I disagree.

We did it. By choice. Because it’s who my father is. And of all of my characters, Kari Finley, Willow’s mother, is the most like my father. The way Kari taught Willow? That’s exactly how Dad used to teach me—by making it a natural part of life.

I didn’t know it when I wrote the series, but Past Forward really does show exactly what kind of life my father would have chosen to live if he’d ever really considered it. The self-sustaining work, the emphasis on beauty, the isolation—all of it shows the kind of man I call Dad.

If you’d asked me as a kid what I thought of living out there in Mojave, I would have said I hated it. Not only that, I would have believed myself. But if you’d talked to me for a while, you would have figured out that I said that because I was expected to. No one thinks you’ll like living with almost nothing, in the middle of nowhere, especially as a teenager.

Looking back, though, I actually I liked it. Dad. Mom. Me. And Boozer, our dog. I’d tell you about her, but that’s a story for another day. Yeah, I liked my life there “out on the property,” as we called it.

Except for the Mojave green rattlesnakes. Not a fan of those. Not then ortoday.

Just sayin’.

Culture Shock: How One Girl's Simple Faith and Logic Challenges Assumptions

14 Comments on “Culture Shock: How One Girl Challenges Assumptions”

  1. Looks like a very good and interesting read on such a very real topic! I’ll never forget the culture shock of having a typical nuclear family to becoming a single mother. And it seems each season of life since comes with shocks of its own. Thanks for the review.

  2. This looks like a great book, and it got me thinking about Esther… I’d never thought about the culture shock she must have experienced! Thanks for this!

    1. It’s really good! And yes, th cultural assumptions in the author bio and in the book really gets you thinking!

  3. Oh wow a rush of memory came back at me just reading about culture shock. I remember the first time I truly felt culture shock – I think I experienced it before, but funny enough it was coming BACK to the United States that really got me. I had gone to Uganda & Russia in 1993 (a year after communism fell so it was sooooo dismal there).

    Coming back felt soooo trippy. The air conditioning, the bathrooms (of everywhere I’ve visited, the US still *usually* has the best public restrooms). I forget about culture shock being a part of the experience of those in the Bible. Thanks for this insight.

    1. I’d heard about reverse culture shock, but I haven’t experienced it myself.
      Basically you prepare for going, but assume that coming home will just be normal. From the people I’ve talked with, it happens on short term and long term trips.

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