Sunday, May 10, 2015

"side by side" by jana kelley

Living a cushy life in the United States, I don't often think about the persecution Christians around the world face. That's why books like Side by Side are important.

In the dusty, Islamic country of Sudan, Mia's life collides with that of another young woman.

A young Christian American mother, Mia finds more than one dark secret on the streets of Khartoum. She finds Halimah, a young, upper-class Arab student with a bright future in her family's business whose risky and secretive decision has put her life in danger. What happens when the path of young mother intersects with that of a spunky Sudanese student? God transforms them both . . . forever.

Part of New Hope® Publishers' contemporary missional fiction line, Side by Side opens the reader's eyes to the life of Muslims in Sudan as well as some of the struggles that Christians face when living under Islamic law. The reader will be inspired to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith as well as pray for the salvation of those who persecute.

Side by Side powerfully brings to life the danger that awaits many Christians around the world. The danger and persecution Halimah faces when she chooses to follow Christ are foreign to most American Christians. For Halimah, choosing Jesus over Islam makes her a criminal, as conversion to Christianity is illegal. It also makes her an outcast in her family, and her life is immediately in danger. I found the portions of the book that followed Halimah to be completely engrossing as they provided a glimpse into both Islamic culture and the reality of life for Christians in Islamic countries.

The portions of the book following Mia, the American Christian, weren't as engrossing. I think a large part of this had to do with the dialog, especially when Mia and her husband were conversing. The dialog tended to come across as stilted and unrealistic, and I had a hard time connecting with Mia or really caring about her life. Ultimately, the Mia sections of the book just didn't feel as developed as Halimah's sections.

Though I did struggle with some portions of this book, I do believe it's an important book to read. Many people who won't seek out information about the persecuted church or Islam will pick up a fiction book like Side by Side, and it tells a story about our brothers and sisters that we need to hear. 3 stars.

Note: FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is discussed at length, though not explicitly. This is a horrible practice that I knew nothing about prior to reading this novel. If you'd like to learn more, go here.

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Jana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend college. She and her husband married a month after she graduated and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. Together with her husband and three boys, Jana enjoys travel and overseas living. After thirteen years in Africa and the Middle East, Jana and her family moved to Southeast Asia where they currently live.

Find Jana online: website, Facebook, Twitter

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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