The Sun and the Sand and a Book in my Hand

Book Review: The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon

Book Review: The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon

Sarah Monzon’s latest tale is a contemporary look at a Christian living in a Muslim country. It’s filled with adventure, romance, and moving spiritual content that will touch the hearts of readers.

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About the Book:

Hannah Pratt grew up among a Bedouin tribe with her missionary doctor parents. Due to the extreme danger for Christians in this Islamic country, their mission work was done by friendship and lifestyle rather than outright proselytizing, which would come with a penalty of death. After returning to the U.S. to complete college, Hannah has returned to the tribe to work as a teacher.

On her way back to the camp, Hannah is caught in a sand storm and is rescued by Karim Al-Amir, the sheikh, who is Hannah’s lifelong friend. Karim is troubled by a mysterious illness that is causing the camp’s sheep to waste away and die. The natives are starting to look sideways at Hannah and her parents, thinking that possibly Allah is punishing them for allowing Christians to reside in their midst. Karim decides that marrying Hannah would solve many problems that they are both experiencing. As Hannah prays, she feels God’s peace about the marriage. She cares deeply for Karim and feels that marrying him is the right thing to do, especially after her parents are attacked and beaten. Is this “such a time” as Esther described in the Bible?

My Thoughts:

Monzon’s story is deeply thoughtful and thoroughly researched. I connected with Hannah right away, she has a sincere Christian faith, yet also a respect for the culture in which she was raised and now lives. The story has many layers: the romance, the adventure, and the spiritual content.

The romance is beautifully developed. I felt thoroughly convinced of Karim and Hannah’s care for each other and blossoming love, yet I also felt heartbreak for Hannah when she fell into comparing herself against Karim’s deceased wife, and the insecurity that came from that comparison. Hannah’s reactions to some of Karim’s words and decisions are portrayed realistically and caused me true anguish as I hoped they could overcome the trials. And the love story…wow, it’s very realistic and made my heart pound quite a bit!

The plot is filled with some twists, turns, and adventure. The over-arching question of what is happening to the tribe’s sheep seems very simple, but to this people group it is everything for their sustenance. I don’t want to give spoilers, but suffice it to say that the culmination of the storyline is incredibly intense and had me quickly turning pages to see what would happen. I was afraid for the characters’ lives as if they were real people.

The most beautiful part of this tale is the spiritual content. I have never read a book like this, and it’s obvious that the author did a great deal of prayerful research. The ways she uses the Qu’ran and the Bible together to show how the two faiths intertwine, and how Jesus is the fulfillment of both the Qu’ran prophecies AND the Old Testament prophecies left me awestruck. I am adding a statement here to clarify after a comment I received: Muslims believe that the God of the Bible and Allah are the same, and it has been shown to be an effective witnessing tool when speaking with a Muslim. Monzon is completely respectful to both faiths and never disparages one in the course of lifting the other. Her portrayal of those of Muslim faith is honorable and should be a lesson to Christians everywhere for how to deal with those who do not believe the same. The work done in hearts is done by Jesus alone, and Monzon’s use of dreams and visions, as well as the Bible teaching, shows that Jesus can reach anyone, we just need to be open to be used to help that faith grow.

Bottom Line:

This is superlative Christian fiction, filled with hope, romance, action, and the true love of God woven throughout this gorgeously written story.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author as a part of the book’s launch team. All opinions are honest and my own.

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