Book Review: A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers

by Francine Rivers, Tyndale House Publishers

As a Christian and a reader, I’ve often felt pressured to read so called “Christian fiction.”  Perhaps I’ve read the wrong books, but most Christian fiction I’ve read is nothing more than sensationalist romance novels with a very thin veneer of Christianity laid on top of an otherwise boring formula story.* I’d begun to suspect nothing worthwhile in Christian fiction had been written since C. S. Lewis finished the Chronicles of Narnia and a few others in the 1950s, but Francine Rivers has just gotten my attention.

The novel begins in 70 AD with the fall of Jerusalem. That sounds proper and historic and, to most, devoid of any feeling. Instead, Rivers gives us a deeply emotional, terrifically gory, and intensely personal story.  The main character is Hadassah, a Jew and a Christian from the time of her birth.  When Jerusalem falls, she is the only one of her family alive.  She is plagued from then on with that soul-wrenching question, “Why me, Lord?  Why did you spare me?”

Hadassah is taken to Rome as a slave, where Rivers really begins to show the ability to bring characters to life.  The characters may be in ancient Rome, but it seems they struggle just like us.  Men spend their lives gaining wealth for their children, only to wonder in their old age what the point was.  Fathers and sons argue about politics and business.  Teenage girls fight for independence.  Mothers cry for their children.  Children try to act grow up, but merely become desensitized to violence and immorality.  Through it all Hadassah fights her fears and tries to figure out what it means to be a Christian in her new situation.

A Voice in the Wind tackles some pretty heavy topics, including violence, sex, domestic abuse, murder, homosexuality, and death, and is probably not appropriate for most high schoolers.  On the other hand, I have not been this excited about an overtly Christian book in a long time, and I highly recommend it to adults (maybe you’ll read it and decide your older teen is ready for it). Seriously.  Go, read it, and then come back and leave a comment about it.

*(Christian) fiction plotline: (Good) beautiful girl wants (to save) dark, dangerous and outrageously handsome man (from hell) and so she (quotes Bible verses and) describes his body, especially his eyes.  This dark, dangerous man with a shady past (hates her religion,) wants her body, and . . . in the end is a changed man and the two ride off into the sunset together (after/on their way to a proper wedding) where she (quotes more scripture and) looks into his eyes and melts into his body (for the first time).

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