The story of Daughter of Ishmael begins around 600 BC near ancient Jerusalem. While its setting may not be familiar to many, it will feel very familiar to those who know the story of Lehi and Ishmael their families. And, to those who haven’t heard or read their story, the themes of this book will resonate with all readers.
While I tend to shy away from dramatizations of scriptural accounts, I genuinely enjoyed this one. Diane did a masterful job taking the reader to this place we’ve never been, to a time only accessible through countless hours of study and research. I was absolutely immersed in the ancient Jewish culture and traditions, in their family life and in their faith. I love that Diane didn’t try to take their time and cater it to the modern reader. She didn’t apologize or try to placate the contemporary woman who might not quite appreciate the roles of women in those ancient times. Instead, she remained true to the time and traditions, and in so doing, my appreciation for and admiration of these brave and stalwart women increased. I think we could all “take a page from their book.” Pun intended.
I loved Hannah. She is brave and humble and dutiful. She remains firm and faithful, even under the weight of family tensions, a misguided husband, and being uprooted from her own comfortable life. She had her struggles, and I ached for her, while cheering her on.
The pacing of the book was perfect—always moving forward—every chapter, paragraph, and word essential to the story. (And I, as a writer, took a few notes. :))
As I mentioned at the beginning, the themes of this book will resonate with every reader, no matter how familiar they are with this scripture story. There is love and hate, obedience and disobedience, humility and pride, life and death, and the struggles that some righteous parents have when their children rebel. Tears filled my eyes on more than one occasion. There is heartache, though it is often mingled with joy.
Because it was so well-researched and the characters real and true to their time, there was no obvious break between fact and fiction. They flowed together seamlessly. And since I am so familiar with the story, I found myself anticipating what was coming and wondering how Hannah would react. She never disappointed. And then I found myself wondering how I would react in those same situations.
I hope I would be just like Hannah.