Ebenezer Vedamuthu fleshes out the story of the nativity from the perspective of the shepherds and the three wise men in his fictional account, titled The Long Journey: A Christmas Story.
The story begins when one wise man from the East, Abu, discovers a new star in the sky and shares that knowledge with his family and friends. He and a companion begin the journey to find the king, meeting a third wise man along the way.
Vedamuthu then introduces readers to a Bedouin shepherd family in Palestine. Obed and his son Moshe are privileged to be among those who are witnesses to the angel proclamation that a new king has been born in Bethlehem. The story comes full circle when Moshe, 30-some years later, becomes a follower of the king, Jesus. The wise men also live the remainder of their lives with changed hearts.
Vedamuthu does well with the story’s details. Character names (Zergrib, Zodak, Miriam, Naomi) and food (dates, nuts, goat milk, lamb) are typical for the time, and historical details from the biblical account of the nativity are accurate.
Unfortunately, though, the story itself lacks drive and emotional resonance. The characters are flat and one-dimensional, with scantly described reactions to significant moments. For example, although an angel lighting up the hills and making an announcement should be an overwhelming experience, readers are told simply that Obed and Moshe feel “fear and awe.” Their climactic meeting of the infant king gets only two paragraphs. As a result of such missteps, the narrative fails to propel readers forward.
Grammatical errors also mar his presentation. On the first page, two spellings of the name Zergrib (Zegrib) appear, as does the misuse of the word “raucous,” for “ruckus.” The chapter title on p. 30 spells “Bedouin” as “Bodouin.”
Most readers are already familiar with the story of Jesus’ birth. Those looking for fresh insights and dimension will find little of that nature in this recounting.
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