This is the debut book from Mrs. Del Boccio who is also a teacher for SchoolhouseTeachers.com is a heartwarming read based on 2 Kings 5, the story of Naaman and the healing of his leprosy.
2 Kings 5Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” …Bible Gateway – NIV
Mrs. Del Boccio has done a wonderful job of fleshing out this Bible story by building on the original verse by developing characters and giving them motives for their actions. I really felt I was getting to know Miriam, the young girl who was captured as a slave and gifted to Naaman’s wife to serve her.
As the story continues, we witness the inner turmoil of Miriam as she tries to honor the memory of her mother’s teaching while fighting her anger and despair at being held as a slave with little hope of ever seeing her family again. As time goes on, she begins to see how being true to God and do her best in order to have some hope of being set free and returning to her village and family.
The opportunity arises for her to help her captors when Miriam overhears than Naaman suffers from leprosy. She remembers the good works of Elijah and Elisha and approaches her mistress explaining the good works of these two prophets and suggests perhaps Elisha could use God’s power to heal Naaman as well.
This leads to the three of them traveling back to Miriam’s country and an easy to read and understand, version of the Bible passage.
I don’t want to give everything away so I’ll end here by saying Miriam’s story is brought full circle.
This story caught my interest from the beginning. I wanted to know what happened to the girl who was captured and how her life turned out. This is a much easier way of reading than straight from the Bible.
I also liked the questions that we talked about after reading the book. They helped me to think more about what was going on and put myself in her place.
I agree with EJ. This book grabbed me right from the start (in fact I finished it in one go and then read it again with EJ). I am a fan of historical fiction so this book was right up my alley. Plus having an easy to read and imagine version of a favorite Bible passage is a bonus. Jarm has done a terrific job of describing the area and helping you to imagine yourself right next to Miriam during all of the action. I also felt Miriam’s inner thoughts made me examine my own heart and behavior.
The Teacher’s Guide contains a short interview with the author, a way to get to know her a little more, plus a lot more. There are several questions that will make you ponder things like who the Heart Changer is and why we need to change our hearts and what character you found yourself most drawn to. Having questions as a starting point to a discussion are so helpful I find. They generally get EJ talking and then delving deeper to explain his response.
There are also some Syrian recipes and a research section (you will want to take care when searching leprosy as Jarm suggests, only do so if you feel brave enough for the images). There are also additional Bible verses and historical facts to help direct your research. You may even decide to write an essay about Syria after reading all of this.
Overall, I would suggest this book for middle school-aged children or those a little older if they like this type of writing. I was concerned at first the EJ would not get into it since the protagonist is a girl but he enjoyed it and wanted to search maps and earth views of the area to help him understand where this story takes place.
This book certainly fit our family and we are looking forward to Mrs. Del Boccio writing more.
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