I'll admit, I was a bit skeptical when I started the book, just as I'm sure most of its readers are at first. I mean, writing about Jesus' childhood in the first person? Isn't that a bit... audacious?
Kudos to Ms. Rice-- she handles it masterfully.
I really enjoyed this book. She makes first century Egypt, Judea, and Galilee come alive. The characterization is so believable. And her return to Christianity in her personal life is evident in the fact that she portrays Jesus with such care. She does a wonderful job of not only making Him fully God and fully human, but she also fleshes out what it might have been like for Him as a child. I have often wondered about Jesus' childhood-- did He know He was God? What age did He know? Did He have miraculous power even then? Anne Rice's imagination about how it might have been is both challenging and intriguing.
Another part of the book I really enjoyed is the author's note at the end. Ms. Rice describes a bit of her journey of faith and what led her to write this book. She also describes her extensive research leading up to it. (I was also delighted to find that she lists N.T. Wright as one of her biggest influences.)
Sometimes I forget that when Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin," it is referring not only to Jesus' temptation and suffering towards the end of His ministry, but also all the years of His earthly life. To be teased by other children. To feel childlike fear in a dangerous world. To have adults brush aside your questions. To be looked at with suspicion due to your questionable parentage. To figure out just who it is God wants you to be.
I highly recommend this book, and I'm looking forward to reading the second one in the series, The Road to Cana. It has being a blessing to my faith and will continue to be so as it prompts me to ponder the Incarnation more fully.