One of the best, if not the best book on the biblical story of Noah and the flood.
The story centers on Annah who lives in the settlement across the river from the settlement of Noah and his family. Living with a family that knows nothing except violence and selfishness, Annah longs for freedom. When Noah's son Shem spies Annah sitting across the river he knows that God has set this woman aside for him to marry.
While the flood itself didn't have the big part in the overall story, I did like what the author did with it in describing the detailing of the ark inside.
The other part that I thought was a real winner was after the flood and Noah and his family were discussing the way the earth had changed. The sky was different, the plants and the way that the animals reacted to them were different. I thought that was very well thought out.
But in the end, this is a story of a emotionally damaged woman who learns to love and laugh and experience the way that God wants to love us.
"The Heavens Before" is one of my favorite novels. It's a historical romance. One of the things I appreciate is that the story stayed true to the information given in the Bible. The author also clearly did her research as to what the pre-Flood society might be like, how the ark could hold all the animals, how they could feed all the animals, etc., to fill in what isn't told in the Bible account. All of this information was woven in as a backdrop for Annah's story.
I was quickly immersed into the world and the story (even now that I've read it several times). The world-building was excellent and brought the story alive in my imagination. The pacing was excellent, and the author built the tension nicely to keep me reading. The characters were complex and realistic. I cared about them, even the ones that weren't very nice to Annah.
Since the Flood happened before Christ's birth or before Jacob/Israel was born, only God ("the Most High") was referred to except for a brief mention of "the Promised One." Noah's family is shown as devout (with mention to them praying, thanking God, etc.), but it's presented as an underlying part of their daily life. As in, it wasn't preachy. I think readers who have a Jewish or Christian heritage would enjoy the novel.
There was no explicit sex. There was no bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this well-written novel.
Annah is a young women who lives in the time of Noah, residing among a people who are violent, selfish, having no thoughts for anyone but their own pleasure. She is held in contempt by all, believed to be mindless as she has not spoken since she observed the death of her own father many years before. While down at the riverside, she has a chance encounter with Shem, son of Noah. After she is nearly beaten to death by her brother, Shem rescues her through marriage and brings her to his family. At the prompting of the Most High, Noah brings warning of the coming great flood. The people must choose between evil and good as the day of judgment draws near.
Kacy Barnett-Gramckow has written a powerful novel in The Heavens Before, one that held me completely mesmerized with it's depiction of life before the flood. The details are rich and beautifully fleshed out, the characters larger than life. Annah's story left me breathless with her rise from the ashes of where she suffered so much wrong. It takes a talented author, indeed, who can take a story where everyone knows the ending, and create a novel that holds you in it's grip and takes you on a journey with unexpected twists and turns. God's light shines through this story, and you will leave the pages with a deeper understanding of his love and his grace and the marvel of his ways.
I highly recommend this book and give it a full 5 out of 5 stars. If you have never read this book, you are missing out. This book should be a must for any library.
Disclosure of Material Connection:
I received this book free from Moody Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
This book was excellent! The author wrote about something that I had never heard anyone else doing. The Biblical facts that she brought out in the story were so interesting that it made me go back to my Bible and really study the account of Noah's time period. It really made me wonder how was the earth before the flood. I hope the next two are as good as this one and would really like to read them.
This is a fictionalised tale of Noah's family, following them during the building of the ark, the flood and after the flood. It is told mainly from the point of view of the wife of one of Noah's sons, and the story starts showing her life in the settlement; a town where murder is nearly an everyday event. Annah, the main character, has not spoken since her brother killed her father and is considered to be stupid. One day when she is at the river, one of Noah's sons spots her and God tells him that this is the girl that, one day, he will marry - and the story takes off from there. I have to admit that I found the part of the novel set in the settlement far more exciting and fast-paced (murder! And demons! And gold!) than the story that takes place after she leaves to marry Noah's son, but I did find it quite interesting to read about how Noah's other sons their wives. Overall, a really interesting novel which I think would appeal to non-Christians as much as Christians (providing that they realised they were reading a fictionalisation of a Biblical story and that, therefore, it would mention God in it) as it is very well written and completely different from any "historical" novel I've ever read. The author has written two more novels about events which take place in Genesis so I'd quite like to read them some day.