WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Unashamed by Francine Rivers
Type: Biblical, Christian Fiction, Romance
Basic Plot: Rahab, in agony over the knowledge that she will die when the Israelites attack, wants only to serve the God of Israel and be safe. Meanwhile, Salmon is eager to claim the Promise Land as his home country and to serve God. Will these two meet and see both of their wishes come true?
Plot: 3/5 Average: The story of Rahab was in many ways just a slightly more descriptive Bible story. Now, the purpose of historical novels is to add details to true stories. I have nothing against this, and I think Francine Rivers does a good job at trying to be accurate and linear. Despite this, I do think that this book would have been better as a full-length novel rather than a novelette. I think it was fine the way it was written and that it did fit the series and devotional better this way, but one can see the potential in the book as they read it. Since going that though would have taken away from the point of the series though, I understand that it was written the way it was, short and sweet. Only she would know what God’s ultimate plan for this book was. What was there, though, told a beautiful, simple story of what Rahab’s life may have been like.
Writing Style and Setup: 3½/5 Above Average: I do like Francine Rivers style than most other Christian fiction authors. She seems to have a good understanding of what is and is not important in adding details, as well as how to tell a story from start to finish in an organized manner. One can get lost in the story much better than one can in other Christian fiction novels.
Moral: 3/5 Good Moral with Possibly Negative Undertones: The moral of the story is to trust God no matter what. The protagonist Rahab embodies faith in God, willing to sacrifice all for him and put anything aside to follow him, which saves her and her family. This novelization of a true story is a good lesson to read, but not all of the presentation was necessarily the best. Rahab had a zeal for God that tends to frighten her family. Non-Christians may look at her as bossy, controlling, and terrifying, looking at Christina zeal as nothing more than oppression. Even young Christians, both literally and spiritually could be led to this conclusion. Christians will probably understand though that Rahab lived in a more oppressive and controlling time as a whole, where everyone in a land or family was one religion, regardless of what it was, as well as that God was saving the lives of Rahab and her family, making it not too unreasonable for it to be expected that they give up false gods considering they are relying on the true one to save their life. One can’t get something for nothing. I do prefer though to read about Christians though that are “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” It has been proven that forced religion will end up as fake religion eventually.
Overall: 3/5 Average: I do not think this book was as good as the previous one Unveiled, but it was better than a lot of other Christian fiction novels. I believe the reason the story was not as interesting was because Unveiled is about a rarely discussed or known about woman, while Unashamed is about a woman that is far more talked about and known. I would say it is above average for a Christian fiction and average as a whole. I think the group that would enjoy it most is grown woman.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2½/5 Frequent, Non-sensual Mention: The protagonist is a prostitute. She is referred to in the book as a “whore” and a “harlot” by herself, other characters, and the book, and it is mentioned that she is known as a whore. Near the beginning of the book, she is sitting beside a man that slept with the night before, but she feels nothing but disgust for him. She kisses him, and he kisses her neck and hugs her. She stops him from caressing her. It mentions that a woman was ordered to sleep with a man as a child and that she used this to her advantage to become a prostitute. It mentioned that she pretended to enjoy this. A young woman worries that she will have to live in poverty as a prostitute. A woman asks a man if he wants to marry her because of her “character attributes” while she touches her “neckline.” It mentions that a man tries hard not to look at a woman’s hip. A woman blows a kiss at some men and uses a “seductive” voice to deceive people watching. Men call a prostitute “my sweet” and “my beauty.” Characters whistle when a woman hangs her leg out, and they yell vulgar things at another time, though it does not say what they specifically said. It is mentioned that Amorite men are especially vulgar and “boast” of their “experience.” It is mentioned that men refuse to look at a woman’s bed. A woman offers to hide men in her bed, which clearly disgusts one. A woman wonders if a man will kiss her; he doesn’t. A man helps rescue a woman by putting his arm around her waist, thought his is not done sensually. A prostitute tells a married man to go home. A man says red is the color of harlots, though his relative insists it is the color of blood. It is mentioned that some men once raped a woman. A man says a woman no doubt has diseases from being a prostitute. The men of Israel are all circumcise, though no details of the process are given besides that the men are afterwards weak and scarred. Some men tell a woman that the have laws about fornication, adultery, and prostitution; the woman then willingly ends her life as a prostitute. It is mentioned that some men had more than one wife and that one had a concubines. A man blushes from liking a woman.
Violence: 2/5 Light Violence: Some men practice fighting. A man fights several men, slicing one. A woman throws a shoe at a man. A woman smacks a man on the back of the head. Several times the protagonist thinks about throwing things at people and once about shaking them. It is mentioned that men are killed in war. It is mentioned that a man no doubt had a “violent death.” A woman “slaps” a man “playfully.” Characters mention that prostitution is punishable by death.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: ½/5 Brief Mention and Possible Misuse: Characters at least once say “by the gods.” Characters curse, but it does not say what they said.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2/5 Slightly Emotional and Disturbing Content: The Israelites destroying Jericho is described in partial detail. It mentions that everywhere there are dead bodies and fire and that one can smell “burning flesh.” It is mentioned that the Israelites and God destroyed several towns and that they burned and killed everything and everybody. A man suggests that his family drink hemlock so that they will not have to be “hacked to pieces” by the Israelites. A woman worries about the head and bodies of the some men hanging on a wall. Men briefly consider killing a woman; they don’t. It is mentioned in slight detail that babies are forcibly taken and burned alive for the purpose of divine blessings. It is mentioned that Jewish children were thrown into the river by the Egyptians. It is mentioned that it sounded like a man fell off a wall and was trampled by a mob. It is mentioned that characters were killed for disobeying God and that Moses died. It mentions that God saved people from death, which is in many ways is the theme of the book. It mentions that Joseph and the Israelites were made to be slaves. A man wonders how many will die “in battle.” A woman believes God will not “waste… lives.” Characters cry from a feeling of rejection and disappointment. A woman asks her daughter is she is crying for the dead; she isn’t. Characters know they will be executed if they played he traitor, and other characters wonder if others got executed, though they weren’t. Some people wonder how the Israelites will destroy the wall of Jericho. The plagues of Egypt are mentioned and what they were, including the Nile River turning to blood, animal death, “disease, boils, hail,” and death of the firstborn. The last one is mentioned two or three times, at least one mentioning the angel of death. A boy cries out while being circumcised. A man almost faints from circumcision and is in great pain. A woman worries her father will fall and break his neck from tree climbing. A woman has blood on her face from mob panic. A man has blood from another man staining his clothes. A man’s leg hurts. A man says a woman no doubt has diseases from being a prostitute. A woman sarcastically asks if some men are “waiting… for the king’s executioner” because they are not hiding. “Slaughterhouse” and “walking dead” are used for descriptive purposes.
Religious Issues: 2/5 Negative Appearance: People have idols of clay and human skulls. Children are once mentioned to be covered in talismans. Ancestor worship is mentioned. A woman throws all of these idols and talismans out of her house. Her family decides they will worship them anyway after they leave her. It mentions that people were forced to burn their babies alive for blessings from false gods. It is briefly mentions that men sacrifice to false gods and goddesses. A man calls God and his powers “myths,” and characters that don’t believe in God say it “god.” There is occasional mention of “the gods” and how a woman thinks they are fake and useless. Later she points out that she has no “idols or talismans.”
Magic: ½/5 Brief Mention: Balaam, the sorcerer, is briefly mentioned and that he blessed Israel, though he was hired to curse it. This event happened in the Bible.
Others: Characters consume, serve, and think about serving wine. A man asks a woman if she wants to get drunk with him; she refuses. A woman lies that she is shaking from a hangover, though the term “hangover” isn’t used. Wine is poured on the sand as a part of the Passover ritual.
Overall: 3½/5 Almost Teenager Appropriate: Because the book is about a prostitute, though little detail is given, many parents may want to wait until their children are sixteen before letting their children read it. The disturbing themes in the book may also be a hindrance. To put it simply, it has nearly adult content that is not described in detail.