The Messenger offers a group of writings the author hopes will inspire a reader’s personal spiritual journey. Most of the book is a novella peopled with biblical characters, using traditional Hebraic and Aramaic spellings of names and places. Following the novella, the author recounts her own spiritual journey.
The novella’s plot loosely follows the New Testament and contains themes meant to convey timeless truths and nuggets of wisdom. A compendium of gospel readings, the narrative follows an itinerant preacher Yeshua on his mission of espousing love and redemption, aided by Maryam (Magdala), his equal in all things.
Author Mialena Zachary has taken liberties here with rearranging incidents and texts from different eras. For example, within two sentences, she conflates quotes from stories from three separate biblical accounts. This style could easily confuse readers who might believe the storyline is a paraphrase of one single account rather than a complete reimagining of all source material.
In the book’s next part, Zachary discusses the evolution of Bible stories, detailing how they were likely altered throughout history. Here, she cites a variety of the texts that inform her views and uses these same sources to support the introductory novella.
Finally, she candidly describes her spiritual awakening one day while sobbing in the shower, lamenting her feeling of despair. Hearing a voice telling her to “Look up,” she saw “a vision of such miraculous beauty that…the images still bring tears to my eyes.” She engagingly recounts her subsequent religious journey.
Overall, this is a smooth read. Taken in proper context, the first part forms an entertaining chronicle, provided readers understand this is Zachary’s own interpretation, and should be treated as such. The book’s latter writings offer fodder for book club discussion (Zachary includes topic suggestions at book’s end), as well as for personal reflection.
Christians and those seeking spiritual redemption should enjoy this book, which delivers engaging stories and dispenses helpful wisdom, despite the lack of groundbreaking insights.