I simply LOVE the Biblical story of Naman, how a captive Israelite girl sent him to Israel to be healed of his leprosy. There are many elements in this very short Biblical account left open for the imagination to fill in the details. When Jarm Del Boccio invited me to read and review her debut novella, I jumped at the chance!
The Heart Changer
Published by Ambassador International
Publication Date April 26, 2019
Genres: Biblical Fiction, Christian Fiction
Setting: Syria 1000 - 732 BC
Main Character Ages: 11-14
Written for: Middle-School
Can an Israelite captive, wrenched from all she loves, serve the very man who destroyed her village?
Miriam is asked to do the impossible: serve the wife of Naaman, commander of the Syrian army. Clinging to treasured memories of home and faith, Miriam faces captivity with worry and bitterness. Little does she know the Heart Changer is wooing and preparing her for a greater mission far beyond what she could imagine.
This middle-grade historical novel reflects the heartache and angst of a young refugee in a foreign land where all hope seems lost.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
The Heart Changer is a very touching and believable account of a twelve-year-old girl who has been torn from her home and forced to serve as a slave for the wife of the man responsible for her slavery and the destruction of her village. Written for a younger audience, there is not a great deal of violence, yet Miriam’s agony is clearly felt. I love the way she learned to adjust to her new environment and the struggles she experienced as she sought to trust God even in a foreign land.
The author did such a fantastic job of making me consider what it might have been like. She cleverly included details from other details of Elijah and Elisha’s lives and ministries and had set Miriam’s former home in Shunam, the site of the home of the widow whose son Elijah raised from the dead to better incorporate them into the story.
Despite my idealized version of this girl who so willingly shared the healing power of God with her enemy, the author more realistically showed her struggling against anger, resentment, and unforgiveness. And even when she had given them over to God, she continued to struggle. Does that sound like anyone you know? It sure hits home for me!
This account stayed true to the Biblical narrative and gave some interesting details about the setting of this story. The city of Damascus came to life and colorful descriptions of foods and customs enhanced the reading. While not described in detail, hints about some of the potential ways Naman and his wife might have entreated their gods were mentioned. Enough so as to give an idea of the horrible cost those idols required without becoming overly gruesome or inappropriate for children.
Another thing I appreciated about The Heart Changer is that the author didn’t dumb down the language for the intended younger audience. Even as an adult, I am sometimes insulted by the way middle-school and young adult authors simplify the language as if these readers can’t handle big words. Not so with Jarm Del Boccio
While the target audience is middle-school-aged readers, I can also see older elementary, high school and adult readers enjoying it as well.
I highly recommend this lovely story of changed hearts, and will be watching for more books from this gifted author!