|Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Crown (July 12, 2011)
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Anna/Jesus – A young masculine appearing girl growing up in ancient Palestine.
The Way by Kristen Wolf is a religious/historical fiction set in the 1st Century Palestine at the same time period of the Biblical Jesus. The phrase, The Way, was actually used in early Christianity to describe the early followers of Jesus Christ. In this novel, The Way, is used to describe the ancient sisterhood who are responsible for preserving and teaching the ancient philosophy of the harmony and balance of the feminine deity. This title is just one of many parallels Christians will find. Other parallels to Christianity are Nazareth, Jerusalem, Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Caiaphas, Pilate, Peter, Passover along with the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
The Way is about the journey of Anna as she goes from childhood through adulthood to her death. Anna is her given name that she uses until her father sells her to a group of shepherds. At this point in her life she becomes a “male” and assumes the name of Jesus, her brother who died at birth. This is a necessary deception to protect her life.
Anna/Jesus’ journey eventually leads her to the Sisterhood, an ancient secret group who has the responsibility to preserve the teachings of the feminine deity that has been replaced by the male deity of God the Father as found in the Jewish religion at that time.
The way while an extremely thought provoking novel will offend many traditional Christians and disturb and distress conservative Christians. As much as I love The Way, I must admit, that there were times I had mixed emotions as a devout Roman Catholic. Yet, there was a pull to continue reading the book.
I believe Kristen Wolf was showing the need for compassion and respect for women. Women have been degraded and abused in every time and place and by organized male dominated religious religions of modern times. If we are honest, women still lack the respect deserved as humans who are equal to our male counterparts.
The concept I took the most from The Way is the following question. Would we be any more accepting of Christ if He came today than those who rejected Him in the 1st Century? Would we believe Him to be the Messiah, the chosen one, if He were a woman? What if He was of a different race, sex, creed or dressed differently than the norm? Are we really anymore accepting? Would we reject Him as those who did in the 1st Century because He doesn’t meet “our” expectations of who the Messiah is?
The Way will definitely invoke passionate view points and emotions but at the same time leave the reader doing some deep thinking and soul searching. The Way is well worth the read.
Anna is an androgynous girl growing up in ancient Palestine, a world where women are worth very little. Events are put in place, and Anna finds herself living with a group of Shepherds, where she has disguised herself as a boy and taken on the name Jesus. The primary focus of the book concerns Anna’s life, and her learning what is called The Way.
I absolutely loved this book. It took the story we all know so well, gave it a fresh spin and presented the story in a brand new light. This story seems to be one that is about empowering women. All the main characters are strong women, while the male characters are painted to be typical of that time period, with the exception of a few that are aware of The Way.
Ms. Wolf does a beautiful job of taking biblical stories, names, places, and giving them a twist, all while immersing the reader in this ancient land. A reader well versed in the bible will find many of the sayings and people they already know, while those who aren’t will not find themselves knocked over the head with preachiness.
If there is one drawback to this, I would say that the strict evangelical audiences might find this book very disturbing or even blasphemous. For those with open minds though, I’d definitely recommend it. For ages, I’d say older teens/adults. There are some episodes of “biblical” violence and situations that young minds might not be ready for.
Overall though, I found this to be a beautiful story. It seems well researched, and the author provides books that inspired her writing of it. If you get the opportunity to read it, definitely pick it up, I think you’ll like it. Be sure and stop back by here and let me know what you thought.
About the Author
Kristen Wolf, 43, is a mother and writer living in the Rocky Mountains. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Georgetown University and holds an M.A. in creative writing and film from Hollins College where she was awarded a full scholarship.
As a child, Wolf grew up in a heavily forested suburb outside New York City with her parents, a younger brother, and an ever-changing menagerie of pet animals.
Both Wolf’s parents and grandparents passed onto her an avid love and respect for nature which explains the photos of Wolf posing with an ever-widening array of pets, including cats, dogs, guinea pigs, mice, quail, two raccoons, chickens, even a squirrel that lived in her bedroom! Needless to say, hers wasn’t the average American family.
Later, Wolf’s family purchased land in upstate New York and on weekends and summers lived like a regular Swiss Family Robinson, clearing the land, building fences, barns and, eventually, raising and tending cattle, horses, pigs, goats, chickens etc. This led to a very unique life for Wolf and her brother as they lived like farmers on the weekends and students in a suburban public school during the week.
Wolf credits her unique childhood for providing her with keen powers of observation, a passion for living things, unlimited curiosity, and a strong independent streak.
As an adult, Wolf has worked primarily as a writer and filmmaker.
THE WAY is her first novel.
*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Leyane at FSB Associates for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.