The story begins in Babylon, where the Jewish people have been held captive for seventy years. Suddenly there's a new king, and he sets them free to return to their homeland. Many of them, however, were born and raised in Babylon, and have no desire to return to Israel. While I've read and heard this story in the Bible many times, Ms. Austin tells it in a new way--one I won't soon forget.
When reading of the captivity and eventual return of the Jews to Jerusalem, it's hard to imagine them not wanting to go. Why would they want to remain slaves in foreign land when they could return home? Ms. Austin makes it seem totally reasonable that they would want to stay. Return to Me follows Iddo, his wife, Dinah, their grandson, Zechariah, and a family friend, Yael, as they make the three month journey from Babylon to Jerusalem and begin a new life there. Iddo is from the family of Levi, so he and Zechariah are rightfully to be priests in the new temple. Things don't go as planned in their new land. Their new neighbors, the Samaritans, aren't happy about their return, and will do anything to stop them from rebuilding the temple--until one day when a prophet comes along and tells them God's will.
My favorite part was seeing the change that came over Iddo as he learned what it means to love God, and experience His love in return. This was really the resounding theme in the book, that even when God judges sin, He does it out of love. Each of the characters in turn experiences His love, whether it be through a direct revelation from God, or through the sacrifice of someone else.
It is obvious pretty early in the story that Zechariah will one day become a prophet, and even record his prophecies for future generations (aka you and me), but this doesn't take away from the story at all. The book is long, and broken down into several parts. The focus shifts from Iddo and Dinah in the beginning to Zechariah and Yael further in. I only have two gripes about this book, and both are very small. First, Ms. Austin does not quote from the King James Version of the Bible. Second, I felt that the separate parts of the book ended too abruptly. The conflict just seemed to resolve itself too quickly, and then the story moved on. But neither of these issues is enough for me not to recommend it, or even to downgrade my rating for the book. I would be interested to read more books in The Restoration Chronicles series in the future.
If you read this book, I'd love to hear what you think of it! Let me know in a comment!
(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.)