NO GOD BUT GOD

Aslan reworks his illuminating and readable No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam (2006) for a slightly younger audience with mixed success. The early chapters lay a strong foundation for understanding Islam’s essential tenets and character. The author describes the early Arabic cultural and religious milieu, separates (scanty) fact from legend in tracing Muhammad’s life and shows how Islam developed from a strong call for social and economic reform to a “revolutionary experiment” that profoundly and successfully challenged established traditions in every area of Arab society and government. Following that, though, the narrative fragments into a series of informative but less cogent essays on narrower topics, including the power struggle among Muhammad’s successors, the true meaning of “jihad” (no, not “Holy War”), the strong links between Islam and Judaism and the status of women in Islam. Nonetheless, the author offers a rare and lucid vision of early Islam from the inside, capped with a heartening (for many Westerners) contention that modern Muslim radicalism isn’t on the rise but actually in its dying throes. (source list) (Nonfiction. YA, adult)

 

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-73975-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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For the 128 pages of this graphic novel, though, readers can pretend this is an awfully big adventure, and they’ll keep...

A BAG OF MARBLES

One almost never hears the sentence, “I’m reading a Holocaust book for fun,” but parts of this memoir of French Jews fleeing the Occupation read like an adventure story.

No one would describe this book as a thriller, but it has false identities and escapes through the forest in the dark of night. Ten-year-old Joseph even looks a bit like Tintin, with his skinny frame and blond hair. For a brief portion of the war, he spends his days eating pastries and watching the same movie over and over again. (Bailly’s pictures of the free zone in Marseille are gorgeous.) But the memoir is always a moment away from tragedy. In real life, Joseph Joffo’s father died in a concentration camp, and the last image in the story highlights his framed, sepia-toned photo. A few scenes are deeply poignant. Early in the book, Joseph is told to deny his Jewish identity, and he asks, “What is…a Jew?” His father says, “Well, it’s kind of embarrassing, but…I don’t really know.” At the time, Joffo probably didn’t think he was living an adventure story. He had to flee from one zone of France to another, hoping he wouldn’t be caught by the Nazis.

For the 128 pages of this graphic novel, though, readers can pretend this is an awfully big adventure, and they’ll keep flipping pages, hoping it doesn’t turn into another story altogether. (Graphic memoir. 11-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4677-1516-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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Easily digestible, a little glib, but reassuring: “God is there, / standing there in the driveway, / arms open, / ready to...

LOVE WINS

FOR TEENS

Christian inspiration for dudes and dudettes. Hey, it’s not complicated: God has invited you to a party!

Distilling messages from his similarly titled book for adults (2011), Bell offers general attitudes for living a Christian life, rather than a specific set of rules, in a combination of prose, Q-and-A’s and occasional free verse. He repeatedly rejects the validity of any “system of sin management” imposed by “spiritual bullies” or organized religions that limit free questioning or envision God as anything but loving. He also acknowledges the lure of risky behavior (with an anecdote featuring his butt cheeks and a BB gun) and the natural confusion that arises from seeing evil in the world—but promises that the party has already started right here and that God’s love (which encompasses everyone, including atheists and non-Christians) is an open invitation to join the festivities. Using the parable of the Prodigal Son, he argues that it’s all a matter of what kind of personal stories we tell ourselves and also that “[h]ell is being at the party but refusing to join it.”

Easily digestible, a little glib, but reassuring: “God is there, / standing there in the driveway, / arms open, / ready to invite you in.” (Q&A with author; recommended reading) (Nonfiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-222187-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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