There is no denying that the Bible is a great book, whether you believe in God or not. It gives the history of a people who have had a tremendous influence on many cultures outside their own. Still, it is a book that covers thousands of years in fewer pages than most history books covering far less time. It is also a book written for a purpose other than remembering details about many people. As such I have found that some of the people in it seem less than human--if I was reviewing the Bible as a novel, I'd say the author needed fewer characters and more development of the ones s/he kept.
Pearl in the Sand is Biblical fiction. The author, Tessa Afshar, took a Biblical character, Rahab the Canaanite harlot who became an ancestor of Jesus, and told what her story might have been. Using both Biblical texts and knowledge of the world as it was at that time, Afshar weaves a story that is mostly fiction but which contains Biblical truths. I found it fascinating.
I've read in many books that one way to pray with Scripture is to read a passage and then to imagine yourself as one of the characters, and to put yourself in the scene and play it out in your mind. Basically in this book Afshar does the imagining for you. Rahab learns about the God of Israel, she chooses to follow Him, and helps His people conquer hers. She and her family are allowed to become part of Israel and she has to learn their customs and rules. She also learns more about their God and His love and mercy, and how she is called to show that love and mercy to others.
If religion isn't your thing, you'll probably find this book too preachy and religious, but Rahab was learning about God and we learned with her. I enjoyed this book, and thank the publisher for making a complimentary copy available to me via NetGalley. Grade: B
About the Author:TESSA AFSHAR was born in a nominally Muslim family in Iran and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She survived English boarding school for girls before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her mid-twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDIV from Yale University where she served as co-Chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last twelve years in full and part-time Christian work and currently serves as the leader of Women's and Prayer ministries at a church in Connecticut.