Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Charlene Reviews: The Way by Kristen Wolf

ISBN #: 978-0307717696
Page Count: 368
Copyright: July 12, 2011
Publisher: Crown

(Taken from book jacket)

Anna is a fiery tomboy living in ancient Palestine whose androgynous appearance provokes ridicule from the people around her and doubt within her own heart. When tragedy strikes her family, and Anna's father - disguising her as a boy - sells her to a band of shepherds, she is captured by a mystical and secret society of women hiding in the desert. At first Anna is tempted to escape, but she soon finds that the sisterhood's teachings and healing abilities, wrapped in an ancient philosophy they call "The Way," have unleashed an unexpected power within her.

When danger befalls the caves in which the sisters have made their home, Anna embarks on a hazardous mission to preserve the wisdom of her mentors by proclaiming it among ordinary people. Her daring quest and newfound destiny reveal, at last, the full truth of her identity - a shocking revelation that will spark as much controversy as it does celebration.

Anna's story is one of transformation, betrayal, love, loss, deception, and above all, redemption. Readers will cheer for this unforgettable protagonist - and for debut novelist Kristen Wolf, whose beautifully written book both provokes and inspires. A compelling mix of history, myth, and fantasy, The Way is a fascinating exploration of the foundations and possibilities of human spirituality.

Charlene's Review:

Set in 7-30 AD, the main character, Anna, fights to find herself. During a time of male dominance, she is forced to watch helplessly as Zahra, a mentor, and her mother, Mari, dies. She is then disguised as male and sold to shepherds by her father. Taking the name of her deceased brother, Jesus, she becomes a shepherd. Unknowingly, the shepherds' leader, Solomon, is the son of Zahra and has plans to take Anna to safety among a secret group of women practicing a religion based on the Mother being the beginning of all creation. Anna is then, ultimately, recognized as a healer and sets out to teach the world "The Way."

While I enjoyed the style of writing and Ms. Wolf's imagery, I found The Way to be a cheap (excuse my French) bastardization of the Gospels. A highly feminist viewpoint is obvious behind the storyline. There are some great points made along the way, especially regarding being who we are meant to be. I would have rather enjoyed the story had it not been for the parallels to the Bible. To call this a controversial book would be an understatement. Further, categorizing it as a Christian historical fiction is inflammatory. Ms. Wolf takes many characters that Christians are familiar with within the Gospel and twists their relationships and interactions. Highly descriptive settings, imaginative plot, and flowing script abound, however, it just wasn't enough for this reviewer to balance out the (in my opinion) warped doctrine being strewn about. I love a good story, but leave my Jesus as He is.

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