Side by Side on "real-life events." As a missionary to Africa and the Middle East, she had plenty of real life events to portray.
The story traces the lives of two women, one an American missionary and the other a Muslim college student. Jana does an exceptional job of helping us understand the mindset of each, no doubt because of her personal experience with one and tangential experience with the other.
Through Mia, we get to see the loneliness of a wife/mother of a missionary while she's in a strange country, we get to see her longing to be used by God just as her husband is, and, when Mia's and Halimah's paths meet, we get to see just how God did use her to reach this precious woman.
Through Halimah, we get to see the cultural expectancies of women under Muslim rule, some I knew about, some were new to me. Jana gave us insight into the home life of Muslim women, into their personal lives and hopes and dreams. As the daughter of an upper class Arab, Halimah had the opportunity to go to college. She wasn't interested in getting married, but her best friend was. Watching the solution of the friend's dilemma unfold provided me with another reason to be thankful I'm an American Christian.
This thoughtfully written novel carefully weaves fact and fiction, leaving the readers with information and an insight we may never otherwise obtain. One of this year's must-reads.
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