Book Club Giveaway: Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

Renee Ann Smith —  October 27, 2010 — 70 Comments

And Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.” (Matthew 1:5-6)

Why would God choose to give Rahab, a former Canaanite Harlot, the honor of bearing a son whose lineage could be traced to King David and then Christ? Because He is a God of forgiveness, grace, and second chances. And Pearl in the Sand, Tessa Afshar’s version of an Old Testament story, beautifully depicts this aspect of Rahab’s life.

In the first pages of the book, the author presents Rahab as a tender young girl who becomes scarred by the customs and practices of her native Canaan. She recoils in revulsion when she witnesses her baby nephew’s sacrifice. Then Rahab’s desperate father betrays her by giving her away to a rich man for enough gold to keep his family for a year. These two events drive Rahab to despair, but they also eventually drive her to seek shelter in the arms of Israel’s God.

I read this book as part of an online Christian Fiction Book Club, and I’d love for you to join us for the next one! I’ll post more details about the November club soon. If you just want to trust me that this is a must-read, skip this section and sign up for the giveaway below! Those of us in the book club had a chance to think through the discussion questions included in the back of the book. I’ll answer a few of these here. If you’ve read this book, please add your thoughts in the comment section at the end of the post. I’d love to hear your take on the story!

1. In chapter 3, we see Rahab being drawn to the Lord. What qualities does she perceive in God that draw her to Him? I loved how the author portrayed Rahab being drawn to the Lord. First, she hears a tale of a Hebrew spy who cried at the sight of children being sacrificed in the Canaanite temple. The following lines relate her astonished thoughts:

“Rahab turned toward Debir holding her breath. A god who cherished life? A god who cared for unnamed babies? A god who could see Canaan’s iniquity and declare them beyond redemption? Again she felt that longing, stronger than before. The irony of it didn’t escape her, the pitiful irony of a prostitute of Jericho longing for the God of the Hebrews.”

Rahab views Canaanite society through new eyes as she contrasts the cruelty of her people with the compassion of the Jewish God. When she looks at her city, she says to the God of the Hebrews, “Am I seeing what You see when you look at Canaan?” Rahab then goes on to ask God’s pardon and experiences an inexplicable peace. This whole scene came alive to me as vivid picture of repentance. For I have learned that repentance is not real in me until I see my sin the way God sees it.

2. In chapter 21, Salmone calls Rachel his Jericho. What does he mean? I also thoroughly enjoyed the scenes between Rahab and Salmone. For me, the author’s spiritual insights heightened the romance and added depth to the budding relationship. Salmone refers to Rahab as his little Jericho, because he feels God has given him the job of loving Rahab enough that she will pull down her defenses and allow him into her heart.

3. In chapter 23, Salmone tries to explain the difference between shame and true guilt. Explain this in your own words: When Rahab can’t quite understand how God (or Salmone) can pour out mercy when she expects judgment, Salmone explains:

“I suppose our sins warp our expectations. I mean that the reason God seems to act in ways that make no sense to us is that our perceptions are wrong. Our expectations are subtly twisted. We long for things that harm us and run from the things that grow and heal us. We think good is bad and bad is good. God acts rightly, but to us, it seems confusing. Or sometimes plain wrong.”

His words brought to mind some of my favorite verses, II Corinthians 7:10-11: “Godly sorrow [true guilt] brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow [shame] brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.”

True guilt is produced in our hearts by the Holy Spirit for one purpose: to bring us to repentance. I John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.

So once we confess something and God forgives, it’s over—no matter what our feelings tell us.

Shame or false guilt plagues us when we doubt God’s love or fail to trust His forgiveness. We needlessly beat ourselves up again and again over the things we’ve brought to God. It’s a major victory in the story when Rahab is finally able to realize this truth.

For the story of another woman of the Bible who experienced God’s forgiveness in a person way, follow this link to A Cup or a Bucket: The Woman at the Well.

Here are some of the remaining thought questions. Even if you haven’t read the book, think about how you would answer these questions. Would your answers match what God’s Word has to say? As always, feel free to share your answers in the comment section below.

In your own life, were there ways your family failed to love and protect you?
How do you feel these circumstances have affected you?
Use three words to describe God as you understand Him.
What gives you your sense of worth?
How do you think your life shows this?
How do you think God feels about you?
What are some qualities of God discussed in this story that touched your heart?

I appreciated so many things about this story and encourage you to grab a copy of your own or sign up here to try to win mine!
I’ll hold a giveaway of my copy of Pearl in the Sand from today until Wednesday, November 3rd.

Steps To Enter the Giveaway:
1. Join this blog through email or Google Friend Connect. To join by email, enter your email address in the space provided on the sidebar. But you’re not done yet! Look for an email from Doorkeeper or Feedburner in your personal email account. Follow the link provided to verify your subscription.

2. Leave a comment here to let me know that you are a follower or subscriber. Be sure to put your email address in your comment. However, write it like this jenniebee [at] yahoo [dot] com and NOT like this (This helps keep your email safe from spammers!)

Have a great day!

Renee Ann Smith

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I teach literature in a Christian high school by day and write inspirational fiction by night. I love to share heart-touching quotes and stories here on my blog. So glad you stopped by!

70 responses to Book Club Giveaway: Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

  1. Terrific review. I keep waiting for someone to say they didn’t like this book – but I don’t think it’s going to happen! This was such a powerful way to tell of God’s forgiveness I’m still choked up!
    Thanks for joining us this month!
    Don’t forget to vote for next month’s book on my site!!

  2. This was such a wonderful book! I’m so glad I stumbled onto the book club while I was reading it so I can see what others thought of it too. I love your thoughts. You pulled out one of the quotes I had marked on the question about shame and guilt. I rarely take notes or mark quotes in fiction, but I marked several things in Pearl in the Sand! Here are my thoughts:

  3. I’m already a follower thru GFC. I love Biblical historical novels. They put a twist or two (probably many) that helps you look at the story in a different light. Please enter me.

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  4. I’m a new follower via Google Friend Connect AND I subscribed via email

    emmerswee at gmail dot com

    @TheMarciFactor (twitter)

  5. Excellent review 🙂
    What an amazing quote you selected as well 🙂

  6. Maureen Timerman October 27, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I have this book on my TBR list. I am a follower and have been for awhile.
    I enjoy your blog Renee. Thank you!


  7. thanks for the opportunity to read this fabulous novel…

  8. I now follow you on GFC. My first visit to your site and not my last certainly. I do hope you will visit my blog.

    Thanks for sharing this book – a new one for me.

  9. The more I hear about this book, the more excited I am to read it!
    I’m a GFC follower (Michele)

  10. Ever since the first time I heard of Tessa’s book and the story, I’ve wanted to read it. This was a beautiful interview. Thank you for the giveaway and the chance to win this book. I sure hope I do!

    I’m a GFC follower and an email subscriber of this blog.

    Barb Shelton

  11. Michele L. and Barb, this book does not disappoint! Welcome to the drawing!

  12. I am new to reading Historical Biblical Fiction! This looks like a great one to begin with. Even if I don’t win, I may go buy it. It seems lately that I keep encountering lessons about Rahab! There is so much to learn from her. My pastor had a great sermon on Rahab two weeks ago. One point he made was that the skills God can use in us are forged in a state of sin. This is so true. That is when we are most vulnerable and the most teachable! I can so relate to Rahab’s longing for God! The remaining questions you listed for the book are so in depth! A lot to think about!

    • Maureen, you’d cherish this book! And actually, I was thinking about you with the book club in mind. Now that I’ve done it a month, I think you’d really love it. If you go up to the first comment by Gina, and click on her name, it should lead you to her blog (Hott Books!). In her sidebar is a list of the books we’re voting on for November . . .

  13. I’d love to win this book. I was suppose to get it for review with the CFBA. However, for some reason my copy never made it. I informed them and they were suppose to have another one sent, but haven’t seen it either. So I’d love to win this book. I’m a follower thanks

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

  14. I read a lot of biblical fiction back in the 70s – books like The Robe, Dear & Glorious Physician, The Big Fisherman, etc. – and have always loved this genre. It seems to be gaining in popularity today and I am very glad. I’ve seen only great reviews for Pearl in the Sand and appreciate the chance to win a copy, Renee.

    I subscribe to your blog by e-mail.

    cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

  15. This book looks promising. I loved Safely Home by Randy Alcorn. Always glad to find another avid reader. Looking forward to sharing many good Christian authors in the future. Blessings Renee! Dee

  16. Please enter me in the giveaway!
    I love reading more about the customs of Biblical times.
    It gives me better understanding and appreciation for the people.
    We are all God’s people and have trials to face, but we share the same God who loves us supremely:)

    • I so agree! Some great Christian historical fiction books have helped me look forward to the day when we’ll share Heaven with men and women from many different time periods and cultures!

  17. Oops, I forgot to mention I am a follower and subscriber:)
    Blessings to you, Renee!

  18. I’ll have to read this book even if I don’t win, I love this sorts of books on the women in the Bible. krm_the_almighty_authoress(at)yahoo(dot)com

    Also Miss Smith, did you ever read the Lineage of Grace series and/or Sons of Encouragement by Francine Rivers? I know you introduced me to the author through Mark of the Lion series but I think I found these two series later.

    Lineage of Grace is very much like this book. Its five books on the five women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus (Rahab, Bathsheba, Mary, Tamar, Ruth) sort of the “why would God include such women in the line that would birth His Son?” that some people might wonder. But its a really good series, especially the one on Tamar.

    Sons of Encouragement is similar but on five men who worked with or were behind “the main men of the Bible” (books are on Amos, Silas, Caleb, Aaron, and Jonathan). I’ve only read the book on Jonathan, since he’s my favourite and what I believe to be one of the greatest shows of personal character outside Jesus. I’m not as quite as happy with the book as I was with the other series, but then again I haven’t read the other four. The reason I wasn’t quite as happy was that Rivers humanized Jonathan greatly, in that he makes some terrible choices in the book/sins. I know no one has never sinned except Jesus, but there wasn’t really any Biblical support to the events/things she mentioned at those parts. But it still was a good book.

    Anyway, sorry for the mini review XD Just thought I’d suggest some more books you would like to read~

    • Thanks, Becky! I always love to hear about great reads! I have read a few of the first series you mentioned . . . Actually, I was just thinking about you. I read some suggestions of Christian fantasy books (like the ones you “reviewed” for me) and a medieval series, and wondered if you’d read them. It’s the Blood of Kings series by Jill Williamson and the Tahn series by L. A. Kelly. And also, I was watching a preview of the new Narnia film with a student and you came to mind!

  19. Oh what a great giveaway! I’ve been wanting to read this for a while now! I’m a follower and a subscriber!



  20. I have heard a lot of praise for this book. I am a new e-mail subscriber. Please enter me in this contest. Thank you for the chance in this giveaway.


  21. Hi there – I just added you to my blog reader. The book looks really interesting, I’d love to read it!

    anastaciaknits AT verizon DOT com

  22. Hi there! Thank you for dropping by my blog and leaving a comment! And thanks for the welcome into the giraffe tribe. I’m trying to figure everything out. Is there a post on the board that has the web address, twitter, etc. for each member of the tribe? Your blog looks very nice. I’m going to “follow” it so I can see when you post new things. Thanks again for stopping by. It is nice to “meet” you.

    Kindest regards,

    • I’m pretty new at SITS, too. I posted my blog address on my profile, but I noticed not everyone does. And I haven’t yet found a list of the whole tribe . . . But I bookmarked those blogs I found and visit often!

  23. Oh, and my email address is Matt5verse6[at]yahoo[dot]com. 🙂

    Best wishes,

  24. Dear Renee,

    I’ve read lots of reviews and overviews of Pearl for the pat couple of months. However, I have never seen one that used Scripture as well as you did. What great insight you have into Rahab’s heart. This whole blog site rocks, I hope you know that. And your guests are fantastic.

    To your guest who was supposed to get a copy and didn’t, if she doesn’t win, please just send me your address and I will send you one of my own personal copies. Moody is usually fantastic keeping up with these things, so this is an anomaly, which I would like to fix.

    Blessings all. Thanks so much for reading Pearl. Please come and visit me on Facebook at tessaafshar (no space).


    • Thanks so much, Tessa! I hope you know how much your book touched our hearts! I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on your facebook site and looking for more wonderful stories from you! Blessings!

  25. this book look so good! thanks for the great review!
    I subscribed to your site via Google Friend Connect! 🙂

  26. oops! I forgot to mention Carmen sent me! 🙂

  27. Hi, Carman sent me.
    I am a GFC Follower and email subscriber.
    I love books about the women of the Bible. Rahab was able to find God and change her life as were many other women. The women of the Bible were brave and willing to make the changes in their life to become believers even when those around them were unbelievers. Though scorned and ridiculed they had their faith to hold on to and make the right choices in their life.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

    • Yes, I’m sure God highlighted certain women for a reason. I bet all of us can find at least one woman to whom we relate and could pattern our lives after. But aspects of every story seem to really resonate, and Rahab’s story is such a beautiful example of God’s forgiveness! If you don’t win, buy this book!

  28. I love books inspired by the Bible. They are usually so very rich & full of detail, and so very real. I’m a new GFC follower.
    Carmen sent me


  29. a fabulous review…thanks for the opportunity to read this novel 🙂

  30. I’m so thankful for you Blog Renee….even if I don’t win a book – I’m making my own list of what I’m going to purchase for my flight travels this Christmas….I’m so looking forward to having some time to read! Thanks for being such a blessing to so many!

  31. Stopping in from your SITS giraffe blog! I am following you (joined.)
    kerrisweeris at gmail dot com

  32. Wanted to come by and thank you for the nice comments and the follow 🙂 I am your newest follower!! Wasn’t this book so good! I loved it as well!

    Have a blessed week

  33. This sounds like a great book!! I am a follower!
    Thank you for the chance to win!


    jmschwindt (at) cox (dot) net

  34. Renee Ann, What a beautiful post. I haven’t read the book but I had lunch with Tessa this past week and she is such a lovely, creative, God-centered person. I was so struck with her “presence” and know that the Holy Spirit is really at work in her life and writing. I must now read the book. I told her I loved the cover. Anyway, it is a delight to see her work here and to know we have another common interest:)

  35. WOW! You ask such deep thought-provoking questions! I hope I’ll be able to do the next online book study. I love those questions you have the readers ask themselves.
    I am following your blog via google.
    thanksalatte (at) gmail (dot) com

  36. This sounds like a book I’d love to read!
    I follow your blog via google.
    lgm52 (at) hotmail (dot) com

  37. would love to offer this book up as a reading selection for our women’s ministry book of the month club “Page turners”. If I win it, I will!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Ultimate Christian Living Bundle | Doorkeeper - November 5, 2014

    […] Pearl in the Sand is award-winning author Tessa Afshar’s first novel. I love how this book beautifully portrays the story of Rahab. You can read my review here. […]

  2. To Be Known | Doorkeeper - November 6, 2014

    […] Pearl in the Sand was the first book I read by Tessa Afshar. (She’s since gone on to publish three others.) I love how this novel sparks my imagination & brings the story of Rahab vividly to life. You can read my full review of Tessa’s novel at this link. […]

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