I’m happy to share with you today a book that is relevant to the week, Readers. Bethlehem’s Brothers by Ronald Hera is the first in a trilogy set during the events of the New Testament. While it is fiction, it stays true to the Bible and works in many of the events surrounding Jesus’ ministry and resurrection. I didn’t intentionally plan this book for this week, but I’m glad that it worked out this way!
About the Book
Title: Bethlehem’s Brothers
Author: Ronald Hera
Genre: Historical/Biblical Fiction
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Although set in Jesus’ time, Bethlehem’s Brothers reads like an adventure novel set in a third world country during a violent revolt. Two brothers are swept into the conflict early in their lives and struggle to find the strength to survive amidst the death and destruction. Each searches for a savior, but success eludes them until they finally discover one who has been ruthlessly hunted since he was two years old. Who is this revolutionary who challenges the status quo and should he be trusted? He talks big but is he who he claims to be? The brothers must decide. There is no teetering on the fence!
Bethlehem’s Brothers starts out rough but finishes strong. The gruesome opening scene, occurring during Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents, is almost too much for me. Luckily, the chapters in the book are all short – rarely more than a few pages long – and the author uses their length well. I usually dislike chapters that are constantly extremely short, but this time, it works. Thus, the author shows events from multiple characters in various locations at nearly the same time, so that we keep up with each of the plot lines concurrently. We see Simeon and Enoch growing up in different environments, and at the same time, we watch a Roman soldier advancing through his career. Each character is presented sympathetically; I enjoyed getting to know each and learning their role in the bigger story.
I read Bethlehem’s Brothers in a little over a day, and I was surprised by how well it held my attention. I expected to generally enjoy it, but I was so drawn in to each of the characters’ lives that I wanted to know what happened next, right away! Even though I already knew the background narrative of Jesus’ ministry (which is presented accurately, using exact quotes from the Bible where possible), I had no idea how the brothers lives would progress. There is just enough suspense to keep me involved all the way through.
Bethlehem’s Brothers is as enjoyable as it is impressive; several narratives are woven together to create an engaging story set in first century Israel. It isn’t quite flawless, but it is very well done. It seems most appropriate to read this book shortly before Easter, since it does cover Jesus’ earthly ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection, but it is a story that can (and should!) be enjoyed any time of year. This is a solid 4-star book.
I hope that this day, and this weekend, are not just another blur in the midst of quarantining and chaos. Will you join me in setting aside a period of time to remember the events leading up to Sunday’s celebration?
Do you have a favorite Easter-themed book?
Until the next chapter,