Monday, May 11, 2009

Review: The Jewel of Medina

I'm doing this review dewey-Style, with portions of her book review questionnaire
Title and author of book: The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones

Fiction or non-fiction? Genre? Adult Historical Fiction

What led you to pick up this book? I'm not sure. I think I saw it on the librarything early reviewer list

Plot summary: A'isha is pledged to be married to the prophet Muhhamad at a very young age. She marries him but can't live with him until she becomes a woman. When she finally lives with Muhammad, she finds that she is treated more like Muhammad's daughter than his wife. A'isha is not the typical woman of her time. She goes from being Muhammad's child bride to his warrior bride. A'isha learns what real love is and struggles to find her place among Muhammad's many wives.

What did you like most about the book? I've read many books that retell the story of women in the Bible, but this book was interesting because even though a lot of the treatment of the women is the same, it is a different religion and different customs.

What did you like least? Muhammad was protrayed very negatively. If I practiced Islam, I'd be outraged. Muhammad is the prophet of Islam, basically the Jesus of Islam. I wouldn't want a book portraying Jesus this negatively.

What did you think of the writing style? It was confusing at times because the author liked to show off her knowledge of Arabic terms.

What did you think of the main character?What is the central character’s biggest problem? A'isha struggles to control herself and find her place in Muhammad's life. I liked how she was a rebel, but wanted to wring her neck every time she acted without thinking, which always messed up her relationship with Muhammad for a while.

What strengths does she have that help her cope? She relies on other people. Muhammad's first wife is often there to console A'isha, and sometimes she goes to her father. Although A'isha is very independent, she knows when to ask others for help too.

Any other particularly interesting characters? Safwan, the man A'isha thought she would marry, is pretty interesting. Although he adds a soap opera like aspect to the story, it is not unwelcome.

What did you think of the ending? I thought the book could have ended earlier. There is a bittersweet ending that is unnecessary. If the book ended only a few chapters earlier, It would have had a fantastic ending.

Do you recommend this book? If you use a rating system, what’s your rating? I do recommend this book, especially for those who like Biblical fiction (like The Red Tent). I'd give this book a B


Michele said...

Couldn't agree more with you about the portrayal of Muhammad. It's almost as if the author was going out of her way to create something to cause a stir (suppose it's good for book sales). I wasn't at all enthralled with this book, which saddened me because I wanted so much for it to be fantastic. Oh well, can't win 'em all, can we?

Jenny Fleischman said...

I think it may have been the authors intent to show the Muhammad's human (albeit very masculine) struggle for power. But in doing so she inadvertantly made a very strong distinction between Christianity and Islam, Jesus was not a Prophet. Even though both religions are similar in that they both had Prophets, nowhere in the Bible do you see Jesus struggle with the part of Him which is "human".

This book has shown me the similarities and distinctions of the three major religions (Judiasm, Islam and Christianity) and in doing so I am much more interested and more sensitive to the true struggle of Muslims to be seen as peaceful people especially in the aftermath of September 11th. The principles of this religion have not changed but are hearts have been hardened to this majority people. It took this book for me to look beyond the bias.