Review: The Heart Changer

The Hubby and I love historical fiction, and as we continue with our literature-based history and geography lessons, I hope we're getting the girls hooked on it too.

So far, the children haven't really read any Bible-based historical fiction that isn't the in-your-face-Bible-story kind, so I was quite pleased after reading The Heart Changer, a middle-school novel by Jarm Del Boccio, Author. Jarm (pronounced 'Yarm') is currently a teacher over at SchoolhouseTeachers.com, one of my favorite online homeschool curriculum resources. The Heart Changer is her first book.

No, that isn't the hand of God--just a reflection of mine. The hand of God is apparent in the story though

The Heart Changer is about the unnamed Hebrew slave girl who directed Naaman to the prophet Elisha. Jarm took those three verses and imagined the slave girl's life, thoughts, and feelings and expanded it into twenty-five chapters.

"Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wifeShe said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. " - 2 King 5:2-4

I received a digital copy of the book, which I downloaded into my Kindle Paperwhite, and the girls' Kindle Fires. The striking cover art, of course looks better on the Fire, but in both cases, the book was a fairly easy read. The story flowed quite well and both girls (ages 9 and 12) read the it in two hours, tops.

The story starts with the raiders from Aram ravaging Miriam's village of Shunem (Miriam is what the unnamed slave girl is called in the story). She is captured and turned over to Naaman, who gives her to his wife. Miriam is full of bitterness and anger, naturally, and struggles to find forgiveness for the man who enslaved her.

As the story progresses, she gradually finds her way back to her faith, and to Jehovah--the heart changer of the story. She thus finds it in her heart to forgive Naaman, which is why she recommends to her mistress Adara, Naaman's wife, that Naaman go to the prophet Elisha for healing.

We know what happens next--the entire chapter 5 of second Kings tells the story of how Naaman begrudgingly washed himself in the Jordan River seven times and was miraculously healed. It also shows how Naaman started believing in the one true God. It was a happy ending for Miriam as well.

Colored or in black and white--good read either way

Overall, The Heart Changer was a good read. I just have a few moments of suspension of disbelief. For example, Adara, Miriam's mistress is almost too good to be true, very kindhearted, with a innate grasp of the Miriam's spiritual beliefs. Also, there was another character, Rana, who was antagonistic at the start, and then after a single conversation, she and Miriam seemed to be fast friends. I also had some minor issues with the timeline of events.

But beyond that, it was a lovely story. I think even younger kids would enjoy this, especially if read aloud. It's also a wonderful way to show how God can change hearts. I also enjoyed the setting, how the food and the lifestyle for the period was described.

The Heart Changer also comes with a free downloadable Teacher's Guide. I wasn't able to use it with my girls, but I did go through it. It was an interesting Q&A segment with the author, suggested activities, discussion questions, and additional resources. It also had a few recipes for Syrian food!

A recipe from the Teacher's Guide

The Heart Changer is available on the various sites (both the physical and the ebook). My fellow Review Crew mates also read the book. Click below to read their reviews.

The Heart Changer {Jarm Del Boccio, Author Reviews}
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