We’ve finished the seventh month of the Unlocking the Past 2022 Reading Challenge: Around the World. This month we traveled to the Middle East, and my choice of story was The Esther Paradigm. Since I didn’t get a chance to finish it yet, I’ve pulled on AmongTheReads to get the review posted. If you click on her link, you can see her FULL review and a ton of awesome quotes and pictures. Once you read her review, don’t forget to comment to be entered for your chance to win a copy.
*Want more interaction and/or suggestions each month? Join the Facebook Group. Want a bookmark with the monthly themes? Fill out this Google Form. Need a reminder on the details of the challenge? Go to the Unlocking the Past Reading Challenge page.*
The Esther Paradigm
by Sarah Monzon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Hannah Pratt dreams of starting a school for the Bedouin clan she grew up with as a missionary kid, and finally her hopes are coming true. But shortly after she returns to the desert from her college years in the U.S., she discovers her parents have received threats from their Muslim neighbors. As the danger escalates, Hannah finds she’s in the middle of a battle no one seems to understand. She must decide to what lengths she’ll go to stay faithful to the mission to which God has called her. Even if it costs her everything.
As sheikh, Karim Al-Amir feels the weight of responsibility as the leader of his people. When a mysterious illness ravishes the clan’s flocks and threatens to destroy their centuries-old way of life, locals believe the American doctors and their daughter, his childhood friend, Hannah, are to blame. Karim must do something to keep them safe—even if the only solution can be found within marriage vows.
In a society where the line is drawn between us and them, Christianity is outlawed, and foreigners are mistrusted, will their union heal wounds or inflict the final fatal blow?
The Esther Paradigm is yet another moving story by Sarah Monzon. This modern-day retelling of the Book of Esther was very well written. Not many stories have moved me like this one. It is the heartfelt account of a sheikh who carries the burdens of his people gladly and of a woman who struggles with feelings of not measuring up.
There was an amazing account of a sandstorm that had me wanting to wash dirt out of my teeth and rub the grit from my eyes. And the moving emotions of a lonely young girl trying to fit in to a new culture, seeing her romantic dreams of being a foreign missionary exchanged for disillusionment and then again for hope. The characters were very well developed, which is evident if you look at the details in the Character Spotlights that the author provided about Hannah and Karim. The portions of the story that were told “by” Karim used a voice that sounded like an Arab and not a Westerner.
The author told of Christian missionaries living with a Muslim tribe with the threat of persecution with great sensitivity and love towards the Muslim people. The story was obviously well-researched and included information on how God is working in the Muslim world. The mention of a dream of Jesus resulting in a heart open to hear the Gospel, though related to fictional characters, is something that really is happening around the Muslim world. I work at a Christian mission organization and have been hearing for years about this very thing happening. Just a few weeks ago I heard a story from a missionary in a Muslim country who heard from a student about a dream just like that. When he commented about how unusual that was, the student later told him that it really is not unusual, he had talked to at least 13 other people who had the same dream. 🙂
While there was a fair amount of time spent going over Hannah’s fears of what physical intimacy would be like, but there was nothing inappropriate or offensive about how it was done. I would not be concerned about my young nieces reading any of the story.
One of the issues that Hannah dealt with was a feeling of always being compared to others and found lacking. She struggled with the sense of not measuring up. The journey that she traveled in dealing with this was tender and touching.
Two quotes that I especially liked in the story, enough to make note so I could include it here is:
“If everyone only did what was safe, nothing would change.”
“But I read, soul open to any stirrings of the Holy Spirit.”
PURCHASE LINK – Amazon
For your chance to win a book from my prize stash, comment with what book YOU read for this month and you will also be entered into the year-end Grand Prize Reader Basket. Use the Rafflecopter below for extra entries and to mark that you left a comment. Entries end on July 7th at midnight EST, and the winner will be drawn and notified by email. The winner will be announced don’t the Rafflecopter widget. *Open to all residents of the contiguous USA, legally able to enter, and an e-book format or Amazon Gift Card will be awarded to those outside that range who are legally able to enter.