Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review: Unafraid by Francine Rivers (Lineage of Grace #5)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Powerful conclusion and a human look at Mary
Cons: Hard to get into because it covers too much ground.
The Bottom Line:
Covers lots of time
Which is hard for a novel
Still, powerful book

A Fresh Look at Mary

Unafraid is the final book a series of novellas looking at the women mentioned in Jesus' genealogy. This book tells the story of Mary, Jesus' mother.

Mary is a just engaged woman of fifteen when the angel appears and tells her she will bear the Messiah. Her life is immediately turned upside down as Joseph, her husband to be, almost refuses to marry her. A trip to Bethlehem follows their marriage, then a flight to Egypt to escape the murderous wrath of King Herod. Eventually, they return to Nazareth, but the warm welcome Mary expects doesn't come. Too many people still believe the whispers surrounding Jesus' birth. Surely they will believe once Jesus reveals himself as Messiah.

But as Jesus grows into a man, Mary continues to be frustrated by His inaction. Further frustrating Mary, her other children refuse to believe her stories about Jesus. Will her dreams for Jesus ever be fulfilled?

This is an interesting look at Mary. Several times, her insistence that Jesus behave the way she wanted made me uncomfortable. Joseph actually comes out much stronger in this book then Mary does as he recognizes Jesus' ultimate destiny early in the story. Still, I had never really looked at the events of the Bible from Mary's eyes before, and I found her attitudes believable. Being fiction, this is obviously one woman's perspective, but it is one that will make you stop and think about our own attitudes toward God.

The story suffers from trying to cover too much time. In 173 small pages, the author tries to tell Mary's story from birth to death. While most of the story does deal with Jesus' time on earth, some scenes that show potential are rushed, making the first half hard to get into. Part of this is the writing style, which seems a little distant from the action. The climax, however, is powerful, and I was crying so hard it was almost impossible to read. Most interesting is the last chapter, where the author issues a very harsh rebuke to those who worship Mary.

Unafraid needed a better focus to best explore the character of Mary. Even with the flaws, this book is worth reading and will make the reader look at the Biblical figure in a fresh new light.

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