After years of watching his children and grandchildren wander from their faith, Iddo’s prayers are answered: King Cyrus is allowing God’s chosen people to return to Jerusalem. Jubilant, he joyfully prepares for their departure, only to learn that his family, grown comfortable in the pagan culture of Babylon, wants to remain.
Zechariah, Iddo’s oldest grandson, feels torn between his grandfather’s ancient beliefs and the comfort and success his father enjoys in Babylon. But he soon begins to hear the voice of God, encouraging him to return to the land given to his forefathers.
Bringing to life the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Return to Me tells the compelling story of Iddo and Zechariah, the women who love them, and the faithful followers who struggle to rebuild their lives in obedience to the God who beckons them home.
In Return to Me, Lynn Austin brings to life the hardships and joys that the Jewish people went through in building the temple after captivity in Babylon. I thought she did a wonderful job capturing what most likely was a way a lot of people felt at the time in regards to building that temple. There is Iddo who wants it more than anything, Dinah who just wants her family together, Zaki who is learning to love God, and Yael who is seduced by the false gods of Babylon. Some many personalities, yet you never get lost in them.
I found the story to be unique and creative, yet it was fun to see certain scriptures in the Bible come to life and to realize that the names on the pages of my Bible weren’t just characters in a story, but real people who lived through real, often horrendous, events.
The only thing that was a bit jarring about the novel was the timeline. Almost seventy percent of the novel takes place in one year and then the last thirty percent covers almost 20 years. Things speed up fast. Understandable of course, research wise, but as a novel it felt like it jumped a bit.
For romance lovers, there is a bit of a romance. The foundation is set up from the beginning, and you can see it, but it does suffer a bit from the time gap because it sort of just happens. That said, the romance is not the focus of the novel so it’s not much of a problem.
Spiritually, this novel is incredibly rich. It deals with obedience to God, forgiveness, getting rid of idols in your life, learning to trust God, and how God can use ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
Overall, very well written and intriguing. I read this novel faster than I thought I would and walked away with a wealth of information about God’s people. Recommended, particularly if you love Biblical history.
Romantic Scale: 5
**I received this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**