Counted With the Stars by Connilyn Cossette {Friday Reads: Recommendation}

Counted With the Stars by Connilyn Cossette

From the back cover:

Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.

To save her older brother and escape the bonds of slavery, Kiya flees with the Hebrews during the Great Exodus. She finds herself utterly dependent on a fearsome God she’s only just beginning to learn about, and in love with a man who despises her people. With everything she’s ever known swept away, will Kiya turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?

My thoughts:

In all honesty, I approach biblical fiction with trepidation, questions putting a hesitation in my reader-steps: Will the author stay faithful to the biblical account or play “fast and loose” with it? Even if she keeps the basic account faithful, will the author add in so much “extra-biblical” content that she changes the meaning or detracts from it? Sadly, I’ve put aside more than one biblical-fiction novel because of that.

But Connilyn Cossette’s Counted With the Stars was not one of them. At all. 🙂 I put off the lamp later than usual more than one evening during my time reading this exquisite rendering of one young Egyptian woman’s path into the Father-heart of Yahweh during the time of the Exodus.

Cossette’s in-depth research shows itself in every chapter, on every page, yet never distracts from the story but always enhances it. I loved learning about the way Egyptian house were designed and what daily routines looked like for servants and masters. The author describes places and things such as the town’s marketplace and feasting-halls and ointments in such a way that I could close my eyes and visualize them – could imagine that I heard the scrape of tools and rustle of grasses – could smell the perfumes and foods! I loved that. The skillful descriptions take the book up from being a very interesting story to an excellently-told one.

The characters — oh, I really enjoyed them and am looking forward with a big smile to reading supporting character Shira’s story this fall (here). The main character, Kiya, is flawed in such a way that I could sympathize with her plight, even if I felt frustrated with her decisions at times. Eben, the main male character, is a wonderful blend of courage, true manliness, compassion, and humility… yet he, too, isn’t “perfect” — a good part of the tension of the story comes from his own struggles with guilt and forgiveness. His relationship with Kiya is one of the most tender yet heart-aching romantic stories I’ve read lately. Though there were some characters whose backstories I would have loved to know more about, each person was well-crafted and necessary to the story told.

What I found most full of light and encouraging was the message — the beautiful, truth-brimming theme  that unfurls through the book like a morning glory: that anyone who wants to come to Yahweh – who wants to become part of His people – may come; that this has always been the case and always will be. Anyone may become one of Abraham’s children – may be “counted with the stars.” So much joy filled my heart, friends, when I saw that Cossette didn’t shirk from proclaiming the truth of the Scriptures consistently and with a bold stroke. It was really encouraging!

{A note: While the author does stay very faithful to the biblical account in Exodus, there are times (for example, with the Red Sea parting or – at least it seemed to me – later when God speaks from the mountain) when she takes artistic liberty to imagine what the Bible doesn’t describe in detail. Even though I may have a different “take” on what I believe the Bible is depicting there, especially in the mountain scene, I don’t believe that the jist of the biblical account is compromised. As with any fictional retelling, I encourage you return to the Bible for final authority.}

I highly recommend this for readers 16 and up. It’s a wonderful, worthwhile novel.

One Comment, RSS

  1. Raechel August 19, 2016 @ 6:12 pm

    Great review, Alicia! And I’m glad you enjoyed the book – it’s one I want to read again. 🙂 And am looking forward to the next one too!

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