I’ve had Master by Toni Sorenson pegged for the Easter weekend slot in my book reviews for several months. So, even though it was a Whitney Finalist I’m going ahead with my review. I just won’t tell you if it won my top vote or not. :)
Master is a fiction portrayal of the Savior’s life from the time of early childhood until his resurrection. It is a story told by one faithful follower who was beside him through out all these years. Toni Sorenson sets up a scenario in which Almon, the narrator of the story, is taken in by Mary and Joseph when they find him sick, beaten, and abandoned on their journey home from
Toni Sorenson sets up a scenario for every aspect of the Savior’s story as it is told in the scriptures and stays close to those scriptural accounts in her retellings. It’s a nice look at what it means for Christ to be our Master and Savior in a non-stressful, non-preachy environment. There are no deep gospel philosophies expounded upon. It’s not nearly as intense on the history and culture aspects as the Kingdom and the Crown series by Gerald N. Lund. It’s easy to stay in the story and not get lost in all the “technical” aspects of the time period. In other words, it doesn’t make you feel bad if you’re not the ultimate scripture scholar.
Master is simply one person’s journey in coming to know the Savior and understanding His divinity. In fact, the author seems to be so careful about making sure everything is scripturally accurate that you don’t really see/hear Jesus speak in the young chapters. When Jesus “once was a little child” he is described in depth, but he never really says much. That seemed kind of weird to me, but that may just be me. I don’t know that the average reader would pick up on it or care. Christ’s childhood is described with loving care and you do get an impression of what life with Him could have been like. He does have more direct quotes as He begins His ministry, but even then the author is very careful about what she actually has the Savior saying.
That little harrumph aside, I found Master by Toni Sorenson to be an engaging and sweet story. It’s too long for a Sunday afternoon, but I’d recommend you specifically set aside some time each night this week to read a chapter or two. I think it will add a nice depth to your worship this Easter season. It may be fictional, but Master clearly leaves you with the most important message any of us can understand in this life. In the words of Almon: “Jesus was . . . He is . . . and will always be . . . my Master.”
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