In this trio of short stories, teenagers have brief but life-changing encounters with religious leaders or founders.
All three young people make decisions that solidify their senses of collective identity: Dina must choose between the relative comforts of life as a slave to one of pharaoh’s queens or heeding her “rebel” great-uncle Moses’ call to freedom; the miracles and message of Mattan’s one-time Nazareth neighbor ease his restlessness and show him a better way to resist his Roman overlords; though it means leaving Mecca and his own tribe behind, Fallah joins Muhammad’s new community, in which “everybody has equal value—everybody.” Beckert depicts the narrators in three painted scenes, but Moses, Jesus and Muhammad appear only in the prose—and there just briefly. Though Lowinger’s portrayals of the three eras are idealized, she does fold some historical detail into both the stories and epilogues that follow each. Along with contrasting the simplicity of monotheism over polytheism throughout, she also incorporates a few very basic teachings and appends short notes on each faith’s scriptures and cultural practices.
Respectful, if not particularly informative or revealing. (maps) (Short stories. 10-13)