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A late night fateful encounter at a gas station in a gang run neighborhood brings together Jim, a white man from the suburbs and Malik, a young black man from an inner city neighborhood. Stuck with each other for the night through tragic circumstances, they must learn to trust and look past their prejudices to discover their God-given humanity in one another.
Number of Pages: 208
Publication Date: 2017
|Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)|
When talking about race, it helps to have something specific to talk aboutâ·a story we can all wrap our heads around. In Meals from Mars, Ben Sciacca provides that story: two men from different worlds forced by circumstance to see and hear and consider one another. It is a novel that demonstrates the social challenges and relational potential for racial reconciliation.
PninaPearlAge: Under 18Gender: female3 Stars Out Of 5Well-Written But PredictableAugust 1, 2017PninaPearlAge: Under 18Gender: femaleQuality: 3Value: 4Meets Expectations: 2First off, I must say that I got this book in high hopes that it would be a inspiring book and not just another polarizing or sympathetic read. The front cover itself called the book "a parable of prejudice and providence." However, in some ways it didn't quite live up to my expectations.
The book begins toward the end of the story, then backtracks twenty hours before the end, telling the story of a well-to-do white guy from the suburbs and a black teen from the inner city. Through a twist of fate, they end up stuck in an icy storm at night in the country together. Neither cares much for the other, and the well-to-do man, Jim, argues about how Malik, the inner city teen, could be something better than he is if he "moved on" or "got a job" while Malik argues about how bad things are and how nothing ever matters and how much he dislikes false sympathy. This arguing (which seemed like whining) continues through the night, and there is little to no resolve between the two men.
I won't spoil the ending (which was a bit predictable, in my opinion), but when I finally turned the last page, I felt that there were more arguments and sympathy than mutual understanding and relief of prejudicial tension between the two characters. I do, however, appreciate that the author wrote the book in such a way that I was given two sides of the story and was not told what to think. Also the book is written with interesting imagery, humor and some relatability. The characters were polar opposites (one has a great, well-paying job, great house, good family life, etc, and the other lives in the bad side of town, is dirt-poor, gets into trouble, speaks very stereotypically, etc), but seemed real enough to be believable. While the book was well-written, I still wish there had been at least some sort of real resolve instead of the sudden, almost unreal ending.
(I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.)
Floyd JohnsonUpstate NYAge: 55-65Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5Not Science Fiction, But Real Life FictionFebruary 8, 2017Floyd JohnsonUpstate NYAge: 55-65Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Meals From Mars does for prejudice what The Shack did for grace. Two men find themselves running - from police and each other. They need to learn to trust each other if they are going to survive and they do that in a small unoccupied camping cabin outside of town. It would be a difficult conversation, but one that had to take place.
Jim was delivering the groceries from Mars Chapel to Maliks grandmother. On the way home he stops for gas at a local mini mart. In the process, he is caught up in a robbery that Malik also wants to run from. For the next 20 hours they are stuck together - but able to discuss the miles and lives that separate them. Jim is willing to learn, even if it means sacrificing a bit of peace at home. But what he learns are important for all of us that care for the poor in our own communities.
The author the executive director of a faith-based school that works with at-risk children in Birmingham, AL. Each faculty and staff member are asked to consider living in the vicinity of the school - making them stakeholders in the ministry, not just employees. Ben Sciacca writes as one who lives with and understands the problems being faced by the poor in America. The book needs to be read by pastors, the members of the local mission committee, and all who care or want to care for own poor in their own community.
This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.
NadineTimes105 Stars Out Of 5A Raw Message that Brings HopeJanuary 13, 2017NadineTimes10Quality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0Malik is a young man on a mission: a mission to stop by a neighborhood convenience store, pick up some butter and milk for his grandma, and stay as safe as possible. Jim, a lawyer, is a man on a mission: a mission to drop off some groceries for a family in need, buy a couple gallons of gas, and get out of this neighborhood as quickly as possible. But a dangerous incident at the gas station puts a major hitch in both Malik's and Jim's plans in Meals from Mars: A Parable of Prejudice and Providence by author Ben Sciacca.
I read the subtitle and some blurbs for this book beforehand, seeing their conspicuous statements about the book's purpose. Even as my decision and desire to read the book were immediate, I'll admit I was a little nervous. Nervous that this "parable" might be heavy-handed, using its characters as obvious pawns to preach a message, and to preach it hard, more so than, you know, telling a compelling story with believable characters.
Once I started reading the book, it did away with my nervousness. Yes, the ideas in it are blatant, barefaced, but not at the expense of story (which includes some beautiful imagery and a dash of humor, by the way.) And it raises questions without trying to tell the reader exactly what to think.
Sure, Malik's style of speech didn't seem the most consistent to me in some places. I also thought the story's pattern might become redundant, if one character kept raising valid points while the other one mainly sat there, stumped.
Yet, the story ultimately balances itself out. And it doesn't sugarcoat or tie up its message in a nice, neat bow on its way to bringing hope. I think many Christian readers, especially in the U.S., would do well to read this book.
Tyndale House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.