Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar is a fictionalization of the biblical Rahab and Salmone. I loved it because despite the fact that we already know how it ends, I was engrossed. (It’s like watching Titanic for the first time. The boat is going to sink. In this case, Rahab and Salmone will get married and have a baby named Boaz. It’s what really happened, and you can count on seeing it happen in the book.)
Three things stood out to me. One, Ms. Afshar does not shy away from the emotional fall-out that girl would have if her father sold her into prostitution. The novel is better for it, and Rahab’s moments of despair and moments of clarity are absolutely priceless.
The second thing I loved was that it brings to life the law of the Israelites at that time. The women really did spend their “monthly period” in a women’s tent outside the camp. The sick were really housed in an area outside the camp. They really didn’t make clothing of mixed fibers. The law, most of which seems dry and irrelevant to me, was brought to life by characters who loved and valued it.
Finally, Ms. Afshar did an excellent job of pointing to Jesus! She connected what the Israelites were doing to the big picture of salvation as we know it. It was not in a way that distracted from the story, but in a way that made the characters’ faith able to strengthen the reader’s faith, if that makes sense.
It is not an easy story to read, because of the damage done to Rahab. But it is worth the ride.