First of all I want to thank the author and publisher for making an Advance Reader Copy of this book available to me for a review. The book will be released on May 1, 2016. Go to your favorite book distributor and reserve a copy.
This is quite frankly one of the best historical novels that I have ever read. I think what makes this so good is that Tessa Afshar was born in Iran, grew up in a nominal Muslim Family and later moved to the West and came to know Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.
She brings a very fresh look at Biblical stories and also brings a great understanding of Anthropology and Sociology in regards to the Biblical Times when Jesus Christ walked the shores of Galilee.
In this story we trace the life of a young girl, Elianna, and her life with her Jewish family in Roman Occupied Jerusalem. She and her family must deal with the hardship of heavy taxation, bribes, thieves and the general hardships that the Jewish Religion placed on their people in regards to customs, laws, sacrifices, etc.
Elianna has a tragic situation in her young life when she takes her brother to a hillside to look at the flowers and has the unfortunate issue of his being stung by a bee and discovering (although she wouldn’t know this) that he would go into anaphylactic shock from an allergic reaction. He dies and sets the course of her life on a path of feeling rejection from her father instead of love and acceptance.
The story weaves through her young life, through meeting Lydia the dye maker of the New Testament and how she works to bring about success to her families business while hiding the fact that she is the driving force, because Jews would never buy from a woman.
At first I thought this was going to turn into a so / so romantic period piece, but then it takes a turn at a little over the halfway mark. This turn sets the course of the whole story and ties it into a Biblical Character that you will be familiar with from the New Testament.
I don’t want to divulge who the individual is because it kind of would be a spoiler to the first part of the book. But I think you will like where Tessa Afshar takes the story.
This book would truly be great for a church book club or even better as a dialogue starter for the Gospel with someone who doesn’t know Christ or is a bit turned off by religion.