Title: Alabaster: What is Most Precious is Also Most Fragile
Author: Chris Aslan
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Date: November 18th, 2016
Source: from Publisher for review
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Maryam is stuck in an abusive marriage, living with her in-laws, in a conservative, toxically religious Middle Eastern setting. A few years back, her father was given a jar of priceless perfume by a dying leper and it seemed as if their fortunes would improve, but then Maryam’s father contracted leprosy and was exiled by the village. Maryam and her brother, Eleazar, and sister, Marta, experience the shame and ostracism this brings. The precious jar that was meant to bring them freedom, but it only seems to have brought destruction. But rumours abound concerning a new doctor; perhaps hope is on the horizon…
Don’t let the look of this book fool you!
It is short. It has only 208 pages. It’s dimensions are also not big.
But the story in it is.
It is so rare for me to finish a book and wonder “How come so many things happened in such a short book?”, but it happened with this novel.
I finished this book so satisfied with what I’ve read, because I got so much from those pages, learned things I didn’t know before and remembered things I forgot.
Alabaster talks the story about Maryam. Her life is not easy. Very young she married into a family that does not appreciate her. Her husband is violent and the one person she cares the most for, her father, is banished from the town she lives in.
The reason: leprosy.
The story takes place in time when Jesus walked among peole. It is told in first person, from Maryam’s POV.
First of all, I think it should be stressed out that this is a piece of christian fiction.
Some people are not comfortable with reading that genre, and I complitely understand it.
It is also shelved as woman’s fiction, but in my opinion, this book reads as young adult.
Although Maryam is married and her life is not an easy one, she is very, very young. At the begginging of the story she is only 15 years old.
Her voice and the way she narrates the story gives an atmosphere similar to the one reader has while reading ya.
I read in one review that the reader felt like the author pushes christian faith to readers, but I’d take that with grand of salt.
I mean, this is a piece of christian fiction and Jesus is one of characters in the story (he shows up in last third of the book), but his role in this story is the one of doctor who can cure leprusy.
Alabaster talks more about hard lives of women during that era, as well as how big of a problem one disease caused not only to families, but to whole society at time.
In his writing, Aslan does not shy away.
Women were abused, and he shows it. There are physical abuse as well as sexual insults described in this book. There is no sugarcoating, but the writer knows where there’s no need for more words, because the reader’s imagination does the rest of the job.
This is an emotional story and one can not help but care.
My heart ached sometimes, because of how hard Maryam’s life was.
If you’re christian, you will probably recognize main characters (Maryam, her sister and brother) from the Bible. It took me some time to realize who they were, because their names were changed (the author made them sound more modern, from what I understand).
This was my first 5 stars worth read of this year.
While I was reading, I wondered “How come more people do not talk about this book?”, but then it came to me.
This is christian fiction, and one of it’s cons is that it is not for everybody, nor do all people want to try that genre, christians or not.
Anyway, I am glad I am one of readers who gave this book a chance, because the time I spent on this book was so worth it.