A book review for parents
This fifth historical fiction book in the "Lineage of Grace" series by Francine Rivers is published by Tyndale House Publishers.
Unafraid Mary is written for adults but is sometimes studied by kids ages 16 years and up.
From her birth in a peasant family to her death as the revered mother of Christ, Mary experiences both joy and heartache as she obeys God's call to care for His Son. Mary faces the shame of an unexpected pregnancy, endures the ridicule of those who reject Jesus' message, and struggles to accept God's plan for her Son's death. But she continues to believe God's promises about her Son. Mary must demonstrate true obedience toward God by choosing to place her own faith in the Son she reared.
While the book's details are fictional, many of the events from Mary's life are based closely on biblical accounts. God is seen as a strong, all-knowing Father, and Jesus is portrayed as the Messiah who brings salvation to those who believe. Jesus claims that each person must choose whether to believe in His message, and even Jesus' siblings struggle to trust Him. As Mary obeys God, she battles negative thoughts, and she meets several dark, unnamed characters, who represent spiritual warfare. Even when God's methods make little sense, His plan triumphs over evil.
The authority of God is a central theme. When an angel of God delivers messages to Mary and Joseph, each responds with awe and obedience. Mary willingly accepts God's call on her life to be the mother of Jesus, and she continually honors her husband's decisions and leadership. Similarly, Joseph emphasizes that his wife and Son are not his own. They belong to God. Jesus submits to both His earthly parents and His heavenly Father, but He also serves as a strong authority for His followers.
Other Belief Systems
Several Jewish customs and traditions are explained. The story implies that some Jews choose to believe in Jesus as Messiah, while some do not.
The word harlot appears one time, describing the reaction of the general public to Mary's out-of-wedlock pregnancy. During Jesus' death, He is mocked, beaten and nailed to a cross.
When Mary becomes pregnant, many townspeople assume she and Joseph committed an indiscretion, though no specific details are given. The birth of Jesus is depicted realistically as a painful process for Mary, accompanied by water and blood.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Mary demonstrates obedience to God's plan. How do you obey God?
- Are there people in your life God has called you to obey?
- How do you obey them when giving them obedience is difficult?
- Many people in Jesus' time didn't believe He was the Messiah because He didn't meet their expectations.
What are your reasons for believing or not believing everything Jesus says?
- How can you learn from Mary's example of faith?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.