In this campus novel, a Christian college student tries to convince a professor of the validity of the book of Revelation.

Joshua Taylor, an undergraduate at the University of North Texas, is a devout Christian. He speaks to God every morning and even works at the Christian coffee shop near campus: Gamaliel’s Cafe, where the 12 drinks on the menu are all named after Apostles. He should therefore find his expository writing class intriguing: The professor, Felix Hampton, requires students to write persuasive essays about how they think the world will end. The students have some diverse ideas. Abdul Aalee Kanasani, a Muslim, believes Al-Mahdi will come to save the world. Troy Dimitius believes in the New Age movement and thinks there will be one world leader. Hampton, as Joshua learns from his boss at the cafe, has been an atheist since the death of his wife. Joshua has no problem convincing Olivia, the prettiest girl in class, of the inevitability of the end times as outlined in Scripture, but can he convince the skeptical Hampton to believe the prophecy—and return to Jesus? Barba (Young of the Faith, 2012) certainly offers a promising premise here. And he writes in a clear, cheerful prose, reminiscent of YA fiction: “Joshua knew that he needed a part-time job that would keep some cash flowing through his pocket....Besides, it was the quiet and calm environments” of local cafes “that never failed to bring a strong sense of relaxation to Joshua Taylor.” But Joshua never doubts his beliefs (and the plot, of course, reveals him to be right about everything), which makes him a somewhat annoying protagonist. The depictions of everyone who disagrees with him range from simplistic (in the case of Hampton) to offensive (Abdul is revealed to be the son of the “Chief Spy for Hamas” and says things like “Bow to Allah or be wiped off the earth”). The implications of the ending are particularly disturbing. While the novel’s setup might have led to some thoughtful exploration and intellectual growth, the story ends up being a bit of Evangelical wish fulfillment.

An uneven Christian tale.

Pub Date: April 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-973625-33-9

Page Count: 218

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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