Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review: No Greater Love by Kathi Macias

Since I've raised a little stink about desiring more diversity in Christian fiction, when I saw this book offered I decided to review it. I haven't read this author's previous work and I love the idea of a series devoted to people living out their Christian faith in other countries and extreme circumstances.

No Greater Love takes place in South Africa during apartheid and is the story of Chioma. Chioma is a coloured girl, which in South Africa means she is of mixed race. She and her brother were orphaned when their parents were killed as part of the African National Congress. Chioma starts having feelings for her employer's son, who is an Afrikaner and she fears what this will mean for them.

I don't want to give too much away, but tragedy certainly does strike and poor Chimoa is forced to make all kinds of difficult decisions.

There were aspects of this book I really enjoyed. While I found the writing to be incredibly straightforward, there were moments of depth throughout, in the character's observations. I loved the different setting and trying to get my mind around the tension in South Africa at this time. I don't think I fully succeeded and I do think that having really good friends who are South African helped a lot. You won't a get a rich picture of the history, but you will be thrust right into the tension in this book.

This book focuses a lot on conversion of the characters, but also repentance towards their prior attitudes. While there is certainly action, a lot of time is spent on the various characters internal thought life.

There was one passage I really enjoyed, sort of wanted to shout amen during, actually!

Quite possibly, Emma ventured, "it's because God is using the man's words to open our eyes to the truth that's been there right in front of us all these years--not that the Bible or the Christian faith is wrong.....but that we've not always interpreted it correctly or lived it as we should.

This sort of humility and ability to recognize that maybe just because things are a cultural standard doesn't mean they are right and that we can, in fact, interpret the Bible incorrectly.

I also enjoyed how reading a diary enabled the Afrikaner characters to realize that their "enemy" was human. The humanization of the enemy is ever so important and something I do think is important to strive for those of us who seek to live our lives in love.

I wasn't entirely satisfied by some of the choices made at the end, but I did enjoy reading this story. It wasn't perfect, but it's an interesting step in Christian fiction.

Rating: 3.75/5
Things You Might Want to Know: Violence. Also it's Christian fiction and very much for Christians, I think.
Source of Book: Received for review
Publisher: New Hope Publisher

(Unrelated to the story, I am not quite satisfied by the book cover. I think showing Chioma on the cover makes more sense and I'm disappointed in the decision of the cover design)

Here's some information about the next book in the series:

About the Book: (set in Tijuana, Mexico, and also in San Juan Chamula, Mexico, which is deep in the heart of Mayan country)
True love ignites their passionate pursuit of His call With violent crime on the rise and the political climate changing throughout certain parts of Mexico, the opportunity for open Christian witness, particularly in some areas of Chiapas State, is rapidly decreasing. Hector Rodriguez pastors a small church in the tourist-popular border town of Tijuana. He also routinely carries Bibles deeper into the hostile areas of Mexico, where he ministers despite increasing difficulty and persecution. Hectors mother accompanied him on one of those trips and felt God called her to stay in the little village of San Juan Chamula, where she uses the Scriptures to teach reading to the families who are open to it. In retaliation for Hectors bringing the Bibles into areas hostile to Christians and in an effort to dissuade him from continuing to expand his ministry there, Hectors mother is murdered. Hector must decide if he will continue his work despite his worries about protecting his wife and children.


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