Rating: [rate 4.5]
With the Holy Land in turmoil, seven-year-old Jesus and his family leave Egypt for the dangerous road home to Jerusalem. As they travel, the boy tries to unlock the secret of his birth and comprehend his terrifying power to work miracles. Anne Rice’s dazzling, kaleidoscopic novel, based on the gospels and the most respected New Testament scholarship, summons up the voice, the presence, and the words of Jesus, allowing hi to tell his own story as he struggles to grasp the holy purpose of his life.
Reading this book reminds me of one Brian Littrell song, Wish:
For just a moment, I wish I could have been there
To see Your first step, hear Your very first word
Tell me, did You ever fall and scrape Your knee?
Did You know that Your wounds would one day heal the world?
For just one moment I wish I could have seen You growing
Learn in the ways of a carpenter’s son
Just a little boy, gazing at the stars
Did You remember creating everyone?
If You pass by, would I see the Child or the King?
Would I have known?
It’s funny that I got this book around Christmas, which should have been the perfect book to read then. But during that time, I was reading A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers, and Mary’s story there was more perfect for Christmas since it talks about Christ’s birth. This book focuses more on Jesus’ childhood, the year where he was seven almost eight.
The book is not exactly a pageturner in terms of its story, and if you’re not that big on some old historical discussions and how Jews lived and their customs, you’d probably get bored somewhere in the middle of the book. Plus, the story is quite well known, so you don’t really expect something new to just popup from the story. To be honest, I wasn’t that much into those things, but the thing that made me stick to the book was the main character, the narrator, the child Jesus.
I don’t know where to put this book: fiction? Biographical? From Ms. Rice’s note at the end of the book, she mentioned all kinds of sources, from different books to the Bible and even to some of those “Lost Books”, which apparently has stories of Christ’s childhood. The only real thing from her sources, in my opinion, is the Bible. So what is it, really?
Nevertheless, the story is enchanting because of it’s character. It made me wonder if Jesus was really like that as a child: so full of innocent wonder, love for his family and curiosity of his past. He was happy, he was afraid, he cried. He respected his Father, Joseph, played with his cousin Salome, listened from his uncle Cleopas, calmed down from his nightmares by his mother Mary and wondered why everyone seems to be paying attention to him in a special way.
Of course, there were instances when he wasn’t like any ordinary child: accidentally killing a bully playmate and resurrecting him, stopping the rain, healing his sickly uncle, praying for snow and getting it, healing a blind man. He was different, and yet he was so much like a normal child: playful, innocent and loving.
I think the most interesting thing in the story is that Jesus had no idea about who he is at all. Most of us (including me) believe that when Jesus was born, he knew exactly why he was sent here, what he had to do, but he only had to wait for the proper time to do “everything”. Ms. Rice writes it differently, and in a lot of ways, it made sense that Jesus also had to figure out who he was and what his mission is just like the rest of us. If he knew how to be good and what is God’s will for him is immediately, then he wouldn’t be able to relate to us, in our confusion about life. It’s interesting to see that child Jesus struggled with Joseph and Mary with regards to his past, that he would learn about the angels that sang on his birth through his envious half brother James, and that the reason why he was lost in Jerusalem and found in the Temple after three days was because he learned about the Herod’s mass murder of the male babies below two years old was about his birth. It’s also interesting to read about his glee with snow, his bewilderment at why his cousin Salome wouldn’t play with him anymore and instead focus on taking care of the babies and how Yeshua is an endearing nickname for him.
I have noted some quotable quotes in the book, to which I have to commend Ms. Rice for making them sound so believable:
“I wasn’t old enough to do it, to keep a long strip of green border perfectly straight.” – Jesus (p. 147)
“If I wake up crying,” I asked, “will you put me with my mother?”
(Jesus to Joseph, p. 149)
“…You’re what, eight years old now?”
“Not yet,” I said. “But soon!”
(Jesus and his uncle Cleopas, p.223)
“Will you let me put my arms around you?”
(Jesus to his half brother James. p. 271)
I wasn’t sent here to find angels! I wasn’t sent here to dream of them! I wasn’t sent here to hear them sing! I was sent here to be alive. To breathe and sweat and thirst and sometimes cry.
(Jesus, p. 316)
I love how this book made me think more of Jesus, to reflect more on how his life. It’s not really to be taken as truth, but it’s good enough to jog your imagination and do more research on Christ’s life. It’s also quite comforting to know that God wiped His Son’s mind blank of any knowledge of His divinity, just so he would know how exactly how we feel. Confused? Don’t know where to go? Afraid? He knows how you feel. :)
I think this book is not only good for Catholics and Christians. Ms. Rice’s language is simple, and it’s not scary or very “in your face” religious type of writing. I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s curious about knowing how Jesus really went down and lived with us. :)