Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Tyndale House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from NavPress for an honest review.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
Malik is a young man on a mission: a mission to stop by a neighborhood convenience store, pick up some butter and milk for his grandma, and stay as safe as possible. Jim, a lawyer, is a man on a mission: a mission to drop off some groceries for a family in need, buy a couple gallons of gas, and get out of this neighborhood as quickly as possible. But a dangerous incident at the gas station puts a major hitch in both Malik’s and Jim’s plans in Meals from Mars: A Parable of Prejudice and Providence by author Ben Sciacca.
I read the subtitle and some blurbs for this book beforehand, seeing their conspicuous statements about the book’s purpose. Even as my decision and desire to read the book were immediate, I’ll admit I was a little nervous. Nervous that this “parable” might be heavy-handed, using its characters as obvious pawns to preach a message, and to preach it hard, more so than, you know, telling a compelling story with believable characters.
Once I started reading the book, it did away with my nervousness. Yes, the ideas in it are blatant, barefaced, but not at the expense of story (which includes some beautiful imagery and a dash of humor, by the way.) And it raises questions without trying to tell the reader exactly what to think.
Sure, Malik’s style of speech didn’t seem the most consistent to me in some places. I also thought the story’s pattern might become redundant, if one character kept raising valid points while the other one mainly sat there, stumped.
Yet, the story ultimately balances itself out. And it doesn’t sugarcoat or tie up its message in a nice, neat bow on its way to bringing hope. I think many Christian readers, especially in the U.S., would do well to read this book.