Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar tells the story of Rahab, the harlot, and Salmone. Ms. Afshar uses a creative license to imagine the reason behind Rahab’s profession and it’s an interesting one. She then uses that same tenet to create an intriguing lie that the main character believes and ties it into her theme.
The Writing Style of Pearl in the Sand
This is the second biblical fiction I’ve read from Tessa Afshar. I read her most recent book Daughter of Rome and the ten-year anniversary edition of her first book. I can see where she has grown as an author between the two novels and am somewhat reluctant to comment on the style of Pearl in the Sand which I found somewhat disconcerting to read.
There were times where I felt as if I were being told the story instead of experiencing it and other times when I was dropped into a character’s viewpoint. That being said, the author’s insight of what the characters, especially Rahab, was feeling was masterfully written.
Ms. Afshar gave you a firsthand look at what it may have felt like for a prostitute to integrated into a nation of people striving towards holiness. She was especially insightful when it came to the marriage between a former prostitute and a leader in Israel.
The Characters in Pearl in the Sand
Rahab was a sympathetic character. The chapters prior to her meeting of the spies did a great job of establishing her backstory and hinting at her character without being overwhelming. They also served to establish her role in her family which would later be critical.
When we first meet Salmone, he’s hypercritical and judgmental. He felt himself above Rahab and his family. But God–and Joshua–had to remind him that just like Rahab, he was a sinner in need of a Savior.
There were several other secondary characters like Ezra, Miriam, and Hanani who played a key role in the story and who had been fun to meet.
The Themes in Pearl in the Sand
The most prevalent themes were the worth/value of a person and forgiveness. I found the themes so deeply intertwined they were hard to separate. Rahab struggled to understand her worth and a lot of it had to do with her ability to forgive herself. She also struggled to accept the forgiveness God offers to all sinners.
Rahab also struggled to forgive her father and the men who had used her services. Their treatment of her caused her to devalue herself every time she thought about it (I told you it was hard to separate the two themes😀).
Salmone also struggled to forgive Rahab and to accept that her past was just that–her past. He also had to understand she was valuable beyond measure because her life was paid for by the blood of Christ.
There was a strong theme of redemption and being redeemed. Rahab, Salmone, and several characters experienced the redeeming power of God. Pearl in the Sand explores the story of Rahab by imagining some of the things she may have experienced while she lived as a harlot and once she aligned herself with the Israelites.
I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publishers through NetGalley; a positive review was not required.
About Pearl in the Sand
Publisher: Moody Publishers; Anniversary Edition
Print Length: 320 pages
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
Can a Canaanite zonah who made her living by enticing men be a fitting wife for a leader of Israel?
Rahab’s home is built into a wall, a wall that fortifies and protects the city of Jericho. However, other walls surround her too: walls of fear, rejection, and unworthiness. Years of pain and betrayal have wounded Rahab’s heart. She wonders whether her dreams of experiencing true love will ever come true.
A woman with a wrecked past. A man of success, of faith . . . of pride. A union only God would conceive! Through the heartaches of a stormy relationship, Rahab and Salmone learn the true source of each other’s worth and find healing in God.
About Tessa Afshar
Tessa Afshar is the award-winning author of biblical and inspirational historical fiction, including Harvest of Gold which won a Christy Award, and Land of Silence, which won an INSPY. The Way Home: God’s Invitation to New Beginnings is Afshar’s critically acclaimed Bible study based on the book of Ruth.
Born in the Middle East, Tessa spent her teen years in England and later moved to the United States. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life. She holds a Master of Divinity from Yale, where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship for a year. She worked in women and prayer ministry for twenty years before becoming a full-time writer and speaker.
Contact Tessa at tessaafshar.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTessaAfshar/
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