THE WAY is an intriguing coming of age… Fascinating… (AMAZON #1 Reviewer ★★★★★)
About The Book
Anna is a fiery tomboy living in ancient Palestine whose androgynous appearance provokes ridicule from the people around her and doubt within her own heart. When tragedy strikes her family, and Anna’s father disguising her as a boy sells her to a band of shepherds, she is captured by a mystical and secret society of women hiding in the desert. At first Anna is tempted to escape, but she soon finds that the sisterhood’s teachings and healing abilities, wrapped in an ancient philosophy they call “The Way,” have unleashed an unexpected power within her.
When danger befalls the caves in which the sisters have made their home, Anna embarks on a hazardous mission to preserve the wisdom of her mentors by proclaiming it among ordinary people. Her daring quest and newfound destiny reveal, at last, the full truth of her identity a shocking revelation that will spark as much controversy as it does celebration.
Anna’s story is one of transformation, betrayal, love, loss, deception, and above all, redemption. Readers will cheer for this unforgettable protagonist and for debut novelist Kristen Wolf, whose beautifully written book both provokes and inspires. A compelling mix of history, myth, and fantasy, The Way is a fascinating exploration of the foundations and possibilities of human spirituality.
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“I don’t think I could rave anymore about this book … truly one of a kind.”
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★★★★★ 5 Stars!!!
THE WAY is an intriguing coming of age… Fascinating…
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Partially inspired by Elaine Pagels’ scholarly The Gnostic Gospels, Wolf creates an alternative understanding of Jesus, as a non-deity healer who espouses a spiritual connection to a feminine earth.
The novel opens with Anna as a tomboy devoted to her mother Mari and frightened of her father Yoseph, a tyrannical adherent to the new religion. The old religion (Mari was a follower) promoted gender equality and valued the role of women as regenerators of life. Few are left who practice the old ways, but those who do, like Nazareth’s Zahra, are both revered for their ability to heal, and shunned. When tragedy befalls Mari, and Zahra is stoned to death, Joseph disguises Anna as a boy and sells her to a passing band of shepherds. But this is no ordinary group of men; it is led by Solomon (Zahra’s son, who was told of a special child) and Judas, Guardians of The Way. It is Solomon and Judas duty to one day take their new shepherd to the Sisters. Meanwhile, Anna, who knows nothing of The Way or Solomon’s connection to Zahra, renames herself Jesus and lives quite happily as a boy, with her new best friend Peter. As Jesus grows older and stronger, he becomes a skilled shepherd. Solomon sends him on a journey, knowing he will be captured by the Sisters. Anna is among them for years where they live a monastic life recording spiritual and medical knowledge, practicing a kind of telepathic communication and preparing the chosen few to become Awakeners, women who dangerously set out to spread The Way. But the times are hostile to women and a massacre destroys their whole society, save Anna and two others. The three venture out, now with Anna as the man Jesus, who has a message for the world.
Wolf cleverly uses the story of Jesus to create an alternate ending to the Crucifixion, in which the Sister’s message of peace is perverted, but her insertion of a kind of New Age philosophy somewhat diminishes an otherwise fascinating idea.
In a debut certain to spark conversation, Kristen Wolf takes the story of Christianity and spins it in an entirely different direction…think The Mists of Avalon for the story of Jesus. In 1st-century Judea, Anna has been an oddity all her short life, different in body and mind from everyone around her. When her mother dies giving birth to a stillborn boy, Anna is sold to shepherds by her father, who passes her off as a boy. To keep her secret, Anna assumes the identity of her doomed brother: Jesus. After a decade with his adopted family, Jesus is again uprooted when he discovers a group of women who preserve Goddess worship in an era when the male God rules all. In their idyllic commune, Jesus resumes life as Anna and comes to terms with her gender fluidity; but when her world is destroyed for the third time, she again becomes Jesus to bring the message of what he has learned to a people who will kill him for it. Some readers will find The Way an interesting reimagining of history; some will see it as denigrating one religion to promote another; and others will simply enjoy it as a myth told in a different way. As historical fantasy, it’s well constructed and well written; the setting is thoroughly researched and richly described, and the pace flows quickly, though many of the characters lack complexity. Regardless of personal opinion, it can’t be denied that The Way is a daring and passionate debut from an author to watch in the future.
A young girl in ancient Palestine struggles with her calling as a spiritual leader in Wolf’s audacious, deftly woven debut. Anna is “a handsome child” with an androgynous appearance. Disguised as a boy, she is sold to shepherds in 7 A.D. and enjoys the freedom of being male, as ‘being a woman in this life is a curse.’ But she re-emerges as female when a secret society of women, known as Sisters, who follow the holistic philosophy of ‘The Way,’ take her in. Anna’s quest for self-discovery and the wisdom of the Way is showered with repetitive motivational statements like ‘Remember who you are, no matter who you must become.’ Wolf delves into the psyche of her characters by continuously presenting their uncertainties. Insecure Anna, for instance, ‘was not qualified to join the Circle! And she was nowhere near as wise or knowledgeable as the others.’ Some of the Sisters wonder ‘about the future of The Way. And whether or not I am serving it honorably.’ Alternating chapters that follow both Anna and Jesus Christ eventually intermingle into a controversial mix of fiction and fantasy that questions widely held notions of faith and posits an alternate history of one of the most influential figures of all time.
Reviewed on: 05/30/2011
Wolf takes the prevailing Jesus mythology, twists it around, and stands it on its head by reimagining the Messiah as a female. Intrigued by the fact that no mention is made of Jesus between the ages of 12 and 30 in New Testament accounts, she fills in the blanks by introducing Anna, an androgynous-looking girl who is sold into slavery by Yoseph, her embittered carpenter father. Keeping her gender a secret, Anna morphs into Jesus, a shepherd boy with uncanny skills and abilities among both sheep and men. When Jesus stumbles upon a group of female practioners of an ancient religious sect simply known as “The Way”, he/she is tutored in the arts of spiritualism and healing. When it is time to reenter the world as Jesus again, prophecy and destiny are fulfilled in an entirely new and startling manner. Readers will either hate or love this unique retelling of the so-called mystery years, but either way this controversial biblical revision is sure to be a book-club darling.
Reviewed on: 05/01/2011
Coming soon: “Escapement”
Stay tuned for Kristen’s next novel titled “Escapement.”
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