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Book Review – A Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

May 15, 2012

It’s clear that I don’t feel the same way about the book as other reviewers. I had such a hard time reading it that I put it down within the first 100+ pages. I picked it back up later but skipped forward another 100 pages to see if the end could hold my attention any better than the beginning – which it did surprisingly! So I have decided to write the review in two parts – the first 150 pages and the last 150 pages. (Just to be fair, I did go back to those skipped pages and read them so I could write a honest review.)

First 150 pages – I picked this book because I loved the cover. Absolutely breathtaking! But I was expecting something so much deeper and poignant in the beginning and I just wasn’t feeling it so I put the book down. I proceeded to read other books and then decided to pick this back up again but to skip forward a couple hundred pages to see if the ending was any better. I’m glad I did because I loved the second half of the book. Here are my problems with the first half: I didn’t feel the fight or fear in Rahab when she was being convinced into prostitution. It seemed to me that she just accepted it as her lot in life. I didn’t feel any strong emotions or disgust from her family – none of them stood up for her or made much of a fuss about the whole situation? Really? Not the sister or brothers? No one? Maybe they were supposed to be emotionally disconnected but it didn’t feel genuine to me.

I also wanted to feel the horror and panic of Rahab’s first “experience” with a man. Take a minute to imagine what that must have felt like. Her heart beating out of her chest, the revulsion, the thoughts….and then just dismiss all that and leave it out of the book, or worse, wrap up the whole experience in one paragraph as this author chose to do. Such a disappointment and missed opportunity. I wanted to watch 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 lived out in the first half of the book. Not in gory detail, mind you, but more than what I got. Tessa Afshar could have included so much more.

Now you might be saying to yourself “what kind of sick puppy wants to write about the inside feelings and emotions of a prostitute laid bare for all the world to see?” Two words for you – Francine Rivers. “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers is based on the story of Hosea taking a prostitute for a wife and is the book by which I judge ALL other Christian Fiction. She is the standard and the Queen, in my opinion. (If you haven’t read “Redeeming Love” where have you been? Go buy it now. I’m serious. Don’t waste another minute reading this blog until you’ve ordered “Redeeming Love” then you can come back and finish this post. Did you do it? Okay, now you can continue reading…) Francine Rivers takes us along for a roller coaster ride of emotions from Angel (Gomer), where as 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 publisher is not comfortable with the raw, edgy emotions of “Redeeming Love” that could have been presented here in “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 about each other to make their relationship work could be echoed by a thousand modern women today. Statistics show very few women have gone through life without facing trauma that leaves them feeling guilty, bound up and wounded. Accordingly, very few men are equipped with helping their spouses overcome these issues and live the life God has intended for them. Beautiful lines like this made me fall in love with Salmone and the second half of the book:

“As he had been a warrior for God against the walls of Jericho, so he would be a warrior for God against the walls that trapped his precious wife. He would demonstrate the same obedience, the same patience and persistence, the same unyielding resolve to win over his wife that he had shown in battle against Canaan’s cities. The soldier in him smiled.”

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

I don’t know why the beginning couldn’t have been more like the gritty reality of the ending. Bottom line for me is the book missed a huge opportunity. With more emotion and depth in the beginning, it could have risen closer to the likes of “Redeeming Love” and maybe even bordered on a Christian classic. Maybe it’s not fair to compare the two books but I couldn’t help it due to the similar subject matter. “The Pearl in the Sand” is no “Redeeming Love” but I would recommend reading it anyway.

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