While we are in the heart of Lent and preparing our hearts for Easter, I thought it would be a perfect time to share some fiction set in the very early days of our Christian faith. Two of the featured books are teen novels that take place during the time of Jesus’ public ministry. The other is for older elementary or middle school students and is about an early saint of the church. All the books are fantastic stories that can draw us deeper into our faith.
Before we begin…
In case you are new to my blog, besides writing YA novels, I love reviewing them as well. Every month I post about 3 YA books that I’ve read each month in a new genre. I also send out quarterly posts marked UPDATES regarding news about my own work.
But for those of you who have kids, or grandkids, or you yourself like teen books (like me!), each month, I’ll introduce some of my favorite Christian and Catholic YA books.
I’ve decided to provide more reviews because there are a few things I’ve learned since I had my first book published:
1 – So many of the teen books published by the big publishing companies contain messages that don’t match the values of many families.
2 – There are a lot of fantastic, clean, faith-based books out there – books that are entertaining yet wholesome and reflect Christian values.
3 – These types of books can be difficult to find. So, I’d like to introduce you to a few new adventures.
The Well by Stephanie Landsem
What an excellent story. I’ve heard wonderful things about this author but had never read one of her novels before. The Well was a true page-turner that I couldn’t put down. I just had to know what would happen next on this completely unexpected journey. The historical details of Jesus’ ministry were captivating and truly thought-provoking.
Although, as much as I enjoyed the book, I must admit there were times I wanted to change the course of the story because it wasn’t headed in the direction I wanted. But the author knew better, creating an incredibly powerful book.
The basic premise is a tale we know well – the woman Jesus encounters at the well. This book gives a whole new twist to that story as it is told from two unique perspectives, the woman’s teenage daughter and a young man new to town.
This fictional account makes you ponder the additional lives that Jesus would have touched and changed through that meeting—something I’d never thought of before. I really loved the message that our plans are not always what God wants for us, but He, of course, has the perfect plan. Amazing things can happen if we have the courage to give Him control and follow where He leads.
This was an outstanding book for older teens.
The Master’s Calling by Amber Schamel
The Master’s Calling is actually the third book in the Days of Messiah series. I have not read the first two novels but focused on this book because it is the only one in the series told from a teens’ perspective. Even though it is the third in the series, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything—the author did a good job of recapping the pertinent information.
The story is about a Jewish teenager named Malon who lived during the time of Christ’s ministry. Malon and his family have personally met Jesus and recognize that He is the Messiah they have been hoping for. Malon longs to become one of Jesus’ followers and is thrilled when his father finally allows him to travel to Jerusalem during Passover to be with Jesus and the disciples. Life as a Jew is extremely difficult under Roman rule, and Malon anticipates the time when Jesus will take His rightful place as the Messiah of Israel, freeing the Jewish people from their oppression. However, when Malon finally arrives, he discovers he is too late. Jesus is dead.
I thoroughly enjoyed this perspective of Jesus’ life. This story really highlights the fact that even Jesus’ followers did not understand His calling. We see this confusion over and over in scripture. The shock, disillusionment, and despair of Jesus’ death is shown so well through this teen protagonist. Malon was so sure Jesus would become a king and deliver the Jewish people from the harsh Roman rule.
The story continues as a confused and angry Malon quickly departs Jerusalem the day after Jesus is crucified and heads back home. He is left not only with his fledging faith, but he must now also protect his family from the very criminal that was freed when the crowd turned on Jesus – Barabbas. This book has several clever twists that kept the story moving along and building to the intriguing ending. I really enjoyed all the characters in this book and am now rather curious about the other books in the series.
What a delightful book! I didn’t know what to expect but enjoyed every moment. It reminded me a bit of The Magic Tree House books or Lisa Hendey’s Chime Travelers series. This book is probably written for elementary-aged children, but I could see middle school students thoroughly enjoying it as well, either on their own or with their families.
When a new Religious Ed teacher shows up, Theo, Chris, and Laura assume he will be as dull as their previous Sunday School teachers. But Mr. Baker soon proves he is anything but boring. With the help of his magical book, he takes the kids on an adventure back in time to meet Moses. Not that Moses, but the bandit Moses from the 4th Century who terrorized Egyptian communities. How did this brute of a man become a saint? Well, join with the kids to find out.
This book was so much fun—full of humor, history, and adventure. I truly hope this will become the first book in a series because I would love to join these characters on more Biblical adventures! This fantastic story is a treasure for the whole family!
All these books can be found on Amazon. I’ve set links – just click on the highlighted titles. For those who don’t use Amazon you can also check Barnes and Noble online or www.indiebound.org where you can search for books and the local bookstores that might carry them or order them directly from the website. You can also ask your local bookstore or library to order the books for you.
Next month I’ll be reviewing three more Christian/Catholic teen novels. But if you’d like more reviews before then you can always check out my recommendation section on my website: YA Recommendations.
If you’ve come across this post on Facebook and would like to get my monthly reviews sent directly to your inbox, you can sign up on my website – www.LesleaWahl.com.
Until next month – Happy Reading!