Return to Me Review:
After years of watching his children and grandchildren wander from their faith, Iddo's prayers are answered: King Cyrus is allowing God's chosen people to return to Jerusalem. Jubilant, he joyfully prepares for their departure, only to learn that his family, grown comfortable in the pagan culture of Babylon, wants to remain.
Zechariah, Iddo's oldest grandson, feels torn between his grandfather's ancient beliefs and the comfort and success his father enjoys in Babylon. But he soon begins to hear the voice of God, encouraging him to return to the land given to his forefathers.
Bringing to life the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Return to Me tells the compelling story of Iddo and Zechariah, the women who love them, and the faithful followers who struggle to rebuild their lives in obedience to the God who beckons them home.
I'm a sucker for Biblical fiction. Give me a story set in Bible times that pulls from books of the Bible and I get absorbed. This book is no different.
Austin is no stranger to Biblical fiction. She has written the Chronicles of the Kings series which are currently in the top 100 of several categories on Amazon as I type despite having been released as long as 8 years ago. Still, I haven't read those, so I didn't know what to expect here. Fortunately I wasn't disappointed.
Austin has brought the Bible to life. What can so easily be glossed over when read in Scripture becomes heart wrenching when you get to KNOW the people. For example, Ezra 1:5 tells us that, "Then the family leaders of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and Levites got ready to go to Jerusalem—everyone God had caused to want to go to Jerusalem to build the Temple of the Lord." Upon the first reading you don't really think about the part I italicized. But not everyone went. That means some left family members behind when they began their journey. Mothers may have left grown children and grandchildren, as Iddo and his wife did. How hard that must have been, how bittersweet. Austin pulls those details out.
She helps us to see the truth of what life may have been like when this rag tag band of people came upon the destruction of the temple. How their new neighbors may have reacted upon seeing them. But the book goes deeper than the general. We see, meet, and grow to love the individual characters. We understand how Zechariah may feel torn between obeying God and leaving his parents. The struggle of loving someone who doesn't love God. Questioning if what he thought he heard from God was really from God.
Is this book worth reading? YES! I look forward to the next in this new series, to discovering what Austin will tackle, renewing friendships with these characters, and meeting any new ones.
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