Pearl in the Sand tells Rahab’s untold story. Rahab lives in a wall; her house is built into the defensive walls of the City of Jericho. Other walls surround her as well — walls of fear, rejection, and unworthiness.
A woman with a wrecked past; a man of success, of faith . . . of pride. A marriage only God would conceive! Through the heartaches of a stormy relationship, Rahab and Salmone learn the true source of one another’s worth and find healing in God.
Tessa Afshar was voted “New Author of the Year” by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. Her book, Harvest of Rubies was nominated for the 2013 ECPA Book Award in the fiction category and World Magazine chose Harvest of Rubies as one of four notable books of the year. Her novel, Harvest of Gold was nominated for the 2014 Christy Award. Tessa was born in Iran to a nominally Muslim family, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last fifteen years in full-time Christian service in New England.
Pearl in The Sand was my book club’s August selection and was a big winner. Tessa Afshar’s novel generated the most and best discussion we have had in a long time. Extremely well-written and meticulously researched, this retelling of the story of Rahab from the book of Joshua pointed to further scripture reading for our members — an important by-product of reading Biblical fiction. One of our members said this is one of the best books we have read, and we have been meeting for 13 years! We all loved this book and give it a very highly recommended rating.
Pearl in The Sand opens when Rahab is 15 years old and her parents, facing financial ruin, decide to use Rahab’s assets. At the prospect of becoming a prostitute, Rahab takes control of the situation and decides who and when. Betrayal from her family, especially her father, rejection from a former lover, and the years of being used by her customers, leaves Rahab feeling worthless. But rumors of a God who saves His people and overcomes all enemies, peaks her interest and she finds herself longing for an escape from the bondage of sin.
There are so many positives to this novel. First off, there are a lot of what ifs that Afshar posits. She creates a plausible story line by being faithful to the Biblical narrative, incorporating the customs of both Canaan and Israel, and creating characters who develop and grow in a natural way. Of course the main characters of Rahab and Salmone take center stage and are very compelling — their love story is sigh inducing! But the secondary characters are well-drawn and just as important to the story. Afshar’s narrative moves quickly and keeps the reader turning the pages. Spiritual themes of forgiveness, mercy, and grace are expressed in creative and poignant ways. We recounted many favorite scenes from the book that are excellent examples of God’s love and care for His people. God is shown as “impossibly holy and ridiculously merciful” — I love that phrase! Sexual sin and its consequences are explored in a realistic and sensitive manner. Afshar handles the pain, shame and burden that many people carry even after receiving forgiveness.
With beautiful themes of God’s love and mercy, characters that are real and relatable and a writing style that cannot be beat, Pearl in The Sand is one we say is a must read!
Very Highly Recommended.
Great for Book Clubs.
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(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)