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Book Review – A Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

Clearly, I don’t feel the same way about the book as other reviewers. It took me so long to read it that I wrote it within the first 100 pages. I picked it up later, but skipped forward another 100 pages to see if the ending could capture my attention better than the beginning, which was amazing! So I have decided to write the review in two parts: the first 150 pages and the last 150 pages. (To be fair, I went back to those omitted pages and read them so I could write an honest review.)

First 150 Pages: I chose this book because I loved the cover. Absolutely awesome! But I was expecting something much deeper and more moving at first and I just didn’t feel it, so I put the book down. I proceeded to read other books and then decided to pick this up again, but skipped ahead a couple hundred pages to see if the ending was better. I’m glad I did because I loved the second half of the book. These are my problems with the first half: I didn’t feel the struggle or fear in Rahab when she was convinced to prostitute herself. It seemed to me that she simply accepted it as her destiny in life. I didn’t feel any strong emotion or disgust from her family, did none of them defend her or make a lot of fuss about the whole situation? Seriously? Not the sister or the brothers? Nobody? Maybe they were supposed to be emotionally disconnected, but it didn’t seem genuine to me.

He also wanted to feel the horror and panic of Rahab’s first “experience” with a man. Take a minute to imagine how it must have felt. His heart was pounding out of his chest, the revulsion, the thoughts … and then just discard all of that and leave it out of the book, or worse, summarize the entire experience in one paragraph as this author chose to do. What a disappointment and missed opportunity. I wanted to see her progression from inexperienced girl to professional woman of the night. I wanted to see more of what Rahab talked about in the second half of the book experienced in the first half of the book. Not in gory details, mind you, but more than I have. Tessa Afshar could have included so much more.

Now you may be saying to yourself “what kind of sick puppy wants to write about a prostitute’s inner feelings and emotions exposed for all the world to see?” Two words for you: Francine Rivers. Francine Rivers’ “Redeeming Love” is based on the story of Hosea taking a prostitute for his wife and is the book by which I judge ALL other Christian fictions. She is the banner and the queen, in my opinion. (If you haven’t read “Redeeming Love”, where have you been? Buy it now. I mean it. Don’t waste another minute reading this blog until you’ve ordered “Redeeming Love”, then you can go back and finish this post. Well, now you can read on …) Francine Rivers takes us on a roller coaster of emotions from Angel (Gomer), where Rahab’s emotions seem non-existent until the end of the book. The only thing I can think of is that the author and / or editor are not comfortable with the raw, edgy emotions of “Redeeming Love” that could have been featured here on “Pearl in the Sand.”

Second part of the book: I really enjoyed the second half of the book. What the two lovers have to learn from each other to make their relationship work could be repeated by a thousand modern women today. Statistics show that very few women have gone through life without facing trauma that leaves them feeling guilty, bound and hurt. Consequently, very few men are equipped to help their spouses overcome these problems and live the life God has intended for them. Beautiful lines like this one made me fall in love with Salmone and with the second half of the book:

“Just as he had been a warrior of God against the walls of Jericho, he would also be a warrior of God against the walls that ensnared his precious wife. He would demonstrate the same obedience, the same patience and persistence, the same unwavering determination to conquer his wife he had shown in battle against the cities of Canaan. The soldier in him smiled. “

This part of the book seemed more realistic to me. It reminded me of the counseling sessions I have participated in. I believe this book would help women see how much it has to hurt to heal and how to help a marriage recover in which both parties are fully restored to God together in the end. And then there was the parable of the pearl. Such a wonderful and beautiful example of God’s love for us, but that’s all I can say about it. You have to read the book.

I don’t know why the beginning couldn’t have been more like the stark reality of the end. The bottom line for me is that the book missed a great opportunity. With more emotion and depth at the beginning, it could have approached songs like “Redeeming Love” and maybe even border on a Christian classic. It might not be fair to compare the two books, but I couldn’t help it due to the similar theme. “The Pearl in the Sand” is not a “redemptive love”, but I would recommend reading it anyway.

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