Sometimes writers can highlight truth through the avenue of story that others cannot. Sarah Monzon accomplishes this in her beautiful novel, The Esther Paradigm. Here’s a little about the story:
The daughter of missionaries, Hannah Pratt dreams of starting a school for the Bedouin clan with whom she spent her childhood. After completing her education in the United States, she returns to the desert to pursue that dream—only to learn her parents have been receiving threats from within the community they serve. As the danger escalates, Hannah must decide how far she’ll go to stay faithful to a calling that could cost her everything.
As sheikh, Karim Al-Amir feels the weight of responsibility as the leader of his people. When a mysterious illness ravages the clan’s flocks and threatens to destroy their centuries-old way of life, some of his people believe the American doctors and their daughter, his childhood friend, are to blame. Karim must do something to keep Hannah and her parents safe—even if the only solution is to be found within marriage vows.
In a society where the line is drawn between us and them, where Christianity is outlawed and foreigners suspect, will Karim and Hannah’s union heal wounds . . . or inflict a final, fatal blow?
Interesting premise, right?
And impressive story concept – to step into two worlds that appear very different and show how there are many things that are the same, one being the heart’s search for love.
Monzon creates a captivating tale by painting an almost fairy tale like world of colorful tents blowing in a heated wind, sandstorms, forbidden romance; it even has a prince 😊 (okay, he’s a sheikh, but you get my point 😉) Add a commoner to win his heart (who isn’t really that common, by the way) and you have a beautiful tale that resembles the ancient Biblical story of Esther.
Hannah cares deeply for the Gospel and for the people in the Bedouin community she’d grown up in as a child. Her missionary parents, and her love for Jesus, have nurtured a beautiful compassion in her “adopted” people. Karim is the Muslim leader of the community, determined to bring honor to his father’s memory and Allah, and he includes Hannah’s family in that community.
When a disease attacks their livelihood and Hannah’s family is blamed for the blight (due to their Christian faith), Karim’s only way of protecting her in his own strength, is to marry her.
The beauty of their friendship-turned-romance, Hannah’s innocence and trust, and Karim’s protectiveness is sweet. Karim is strong, serious, and bound by a generations’-old duty and Hannah…well, she brings color into his life. Karim doesn’t see it as her faith at first, but as the story moves forward, and as dangers threaten to destroy the tenderness of their newfound love, Hannah’s faith is tried, Karim’s authority is challenged, and their lives are put to the test.
Monzon’s brave pen-dip into the Muslim-Christian dynamics results in a beautiful story of romance, not only of two human hearts, but also the romance of a loving Father for His people. The Esther Paradigm is a stand-off-the-bookshelf kind of story that you’ll want to discover.
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