Title: A Cry From Egypt
Author: Hope Auer
Series: The Promised Land, Book 1
Major Themes: Egypt, Exodus, Israel
Synopsis: Jarah and her family live through the plagues of Egypt as they work through a controversy in their family over whether Yahweh or the Egyptian gods is causing the problems.
I was very excited about A Cry From Egypt when I first heard about it several years ago. After reading a sample chapter, it sounded like a great book, so when I found it in Kindle format I bought it to read to my children. I really wanted to love this book. Written by a homeschooled girl, I thought it would be wonderful. We were quite disappointed, however.
The basic story is very good. This book really brings the suffering of the Children of Israel to life; you get a good feel for what it would have been like for them just before the Exodus. You also get a feel for how terrible the plagues were and how terrifying it would have been to be there. Through the eyes of Jarah and her family you will watch events unfold as Moses comes back from exile and confronts Pharaoh. The increased workload after this confrontation pushes the Israelites nearly to the breaking point, and those who have faith in Yahweh learn to lean more heavily on him. Jarah’s family is a divided house; Father and Eitan, the oldest son, trust Yahweh, but Mother and Shayna, the oldest daughter, worship the Egyptian gods. Jarah must decide who she will trust.
In a lot of ways, I appreciated the descriptions of the plagues. For example, I felt like the plague of darkness was described very well—darkness that could be felt. So many books describe it as a severe sandstorm, but this book makes it clear that it was supernatural. However, with every plague this author shows that the Israelites and the land of Goshen were spared from every single plague. The Bible does not mention that difference until the fourth plague. I’m just not comfortable changing the Bible that much. Also, in this book the plague of darkness lasted a week, whereas the Bible says it only lasted three days (though I’m sure that felt like a week!). Also, when the family picked out their Passover lamb, while I appreciated the description of searching for a perfect lamb, this story has them finding it the same day it was to be killed. The Bible says that they were to keep it at their house for four days before the Passover. Another factor in the story which I did not feel was Biblical was the relationship the people had with God. It was portrayed as the way our relationship is with God today. However, before the Holy Spirit was given, after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, I don’t believe people were able to talk to God and hear from Him the way we do now. Because of these differences with the Bible, I just can’t recommend A Cry From Egypt very highly.
We also felt like there were some scenes which were not necessary to the story, which were just added for drama. For example, in one scene a girl is nearly bitten by a snake. That incident has nothing to do with the story and really doesn’t add anything to it except a hint at more romance in the future. Maybe it will be important in a future book in the series, however. There are also a few fairly graphic descriptions of whippings, and a thread of romance that runs through the whole book.
WARNING: In the second chapter, Jarah dreams about her mother’s beating at the hands of an Egyptian overseer, which happened some time ago. In the fifth chapter, Jarah and her brother are whipped badly. In the eighth chapter, Jarah’s friend Ada, who works in the palace as a servant of the queen, is attacked and nearly killed. Also, read the last two paragraphs of the review.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15