Happy Thursday again! For the past couple of weeks, I have had the privilege of featuring all of the 2021 The Christy Award Finalists! Be sure to register for the FREE winners gala webcast tonight so you can cheer on your faves! Today I’m finishing up this blog series with Lori Banov Kaufmann and her young adult fiction Christy Award finalist book Rebel Daughter! You can check out a list of all the finalists HERE. You can also catch up on any posts you missed HERE.
GENRE: Young Adult Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: Delacorte Press
RELEASE DATE: February 9, 2021
A young woman survives the unthinkable in this stunning and emotionally satisfying tale of family, love, and resilience, set against the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
Esther dreams of so much more than the marriage her parents have arranged to a prosperous silversmith. Always curious and eager to explore, she must accept the burden of being the dutiful daughter. Yet she is torn between her family responsibilities and her own desires.
Meanwhile, the growing turmoil threatens to tear apart not only her beloved city, Jerusalem, but also her own family. As the streets turn into a bloody battleground between rebels and Romans, Esther’s journey becomes one of survival. She remains fiercely devoted to her family, and braves famine, siege, and slavery to protect those she loves.
This emotional and impassioned saga, based on real characters and meticulous research, seamlessly blends the fascinating story of the Jewish people with a timeless protagonist determined to take charge of her own life against all odds.
I asked the author for a peek inside….
Tonight, for the first time since the attack, Hanan called her into his study. Esther bounded into his room and sat down. He walked to his desk with a laborious shuffle and lowered himself onto the chair. She hoped she still remembered the Greek letters he’d been teaching her. She had learned to read and write in Hebrew faster than he’d anticipated, and now they were starting on Greek.
Her father put the fingertips of each hand together, like a temple in the air. She reached for the abacus on his desk, moved the small beads up and down in their grooves, waiting for him to speak. The echoes of the click, click, click of bronze beads hovered in the air.
“I’ve always been a counter too,” he said at last. “That’s what I do. I count the columns in the portico, the shekels in the treasury, the hides to be sold, the jars of incense. I count the wages of the stonemasons and bricklayers and carpenters.”
He sighed and sat back. “Even though Yom Kippur is past, I’m still making lists, counting all the good things I’ve done and all the bad.”
“You don’t have any bad deeds,” Esther said.
“Everyone who has lived has erred. I’ve sinned against God. I’m angry with Him for giving life, then taking it away.”
“What are you talking about? God isn’t taking anything away.”
“Not yet, but He will. I used to count how many days I lived; now I count how many I have left.”
“I don’t like when you talk like this.”
“The truth often makes us uncomfortable,” he said, then smiled sadly. “But the thing about the truth is that it doesn’t go away if we ignore it. And the truth is that no one lives forever. I want to make sure you and the family will be safe when I’m gone. You know, most girls are betrothed by the time they’re thirteen.”
Esther knew the road she was supposed to take, but she didn’t want to travel it–at least not yet. She wanted to see where the other roads went first.
“I can’t get married now! If I’m married, I’ll have to move to my husband’s house, and we won’t be able to continue my studies. Even if my husband lets me read, I won’t have time.”
Hanan sighed. “Maybe your mother was right about filling your head with learning.” He sat up in the chair. “Esther, you need someone from a good family to be responsible for you.”
“Why can’t I be responsible for myself?”
“You’re a woman. You need a man to protect you, especially now, with all the unrest.”
Esther frowned. “There’s always unrest. The Romans have tormented us for years.”
“You’re right. But now people want to fight back.”
“Good. I hope we kill all of them.”
“Esther!” he admonished. “How can you say that?”
“How can you not after what they did to you?” A pained expression crossed his face. “I thought we had agreed not to talk about that.” The truth often makes us uncomfortable. She bit her lip.
After a long pause, he said, “Those were a few soldiers having their sport. Yes, the Romans can be coarse and greedy, but they’re not forbidding our prayers and customs. Besides, Judea is a small province with no army. How can we defeat the most powerful empire in the world?”
“Yehuda says we will.” Her older brother claimed that it was written in the Holy Scripture: at the End of Days, the Jews will vanquish their enemy, and God will establish His kingdom on Earth. “Yehuda said the prophets have already predicted our victory.”
“I’ve read the prophecies of Daniel and Isaiah too. You can find anything in there.”
Esther squirmed in her seat. She didn’t want to talk about war . . . or marriage. “Can we learn now?” she asked.
“Maybe another time,” he sighed. “It’s late.”
Lori Banov Kaufmann, Rebel Daughter
© Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
As soon as she learned of the discovery of the first-century tombstone that inspired Rebel Daughter, Lori Banov Kaufmann wanted to know more. She was so intrigued by the unlikely but true love story the stone revealed that she embarked on a more than ten-year quest with some of the world’s leading scholars and archaeologists to bring the real characters to life as accurately as possible.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Lori was a strategy consultant for high-tech companies. She has an undergraduate degree from Princeton and a masters from Harvard. She lives in Israel with her husband and four adult children. She is a debut novelist at the ripe young age of 62!
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What about you? What makes you want to read the young adult fiction Christy Award finalist Rebel Daughter by Lori Banov Kaufmann? Or, if you’ve read it already, what did you love about it?