The Apostle’s Sister (Jerusalem Road)

Written by ANGELA HUNT
Review by J. Lynn Else

30 AD. Neither Aya nor her brother Sha’ul wishes to marry. They have other plans for their lives: Aya is a musician, and Sha’ul is devoted to a life of study. Their parents have different views. After their weddings, both couples end up in Jerusalem. Aya knows she’ll never be able to sing at Gentile banquets in the confines of the strict Holy City. However, she’s able to assist her husband Avidan, whose eyesight has affected his studies, by reading scripture to him. As Sha’ul gains his place among the Sanhedrin, he becomes increasingly incensed by the followers of Jesus. Vowing to eradicate their numbers after the crucifixion, he sets out on a journey which irrevocably changes the course of his life in unimaginable ways. His choice, though, affects Aya’s and Avidan’s lives, as they are suddenly looked upon with suspicion and shame.

The narrative alternates between Sha’ul and Aya as they’re caught up in events following Jesus’s death. Hunt’s story comes alive with wonderfully researched details involving festivals, choirs, and religious cornerstones of ancient Jewish life. Character development is enriched by debates between Sha’ul, Avidan, and Aya as they discuss signs of the Messiah within scripture as well as their faith in Ha’Shem (God). If Jesus was Messiah, why didn’t he end their oppression? Instead, Roman Emperors enact stricter laws. Aya’s life continues to change from daughter, wife, mother, and more, pulling readers in emotionally. While living a godly life, Aya questions why she’s been suffering. The plot is driven by its characters and the slow build of God’s work within their lives, culminating in a moving finale.