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Book Review: ‘Awesome King’ by Juliet P. Graham

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The first in the “God and Me True Adventure Stories” series, Awesome King tells the story of David’s unexpected journey from a shepherd boy to becoming king of all Israel. Here, author Juliet P. Graham gives a very readable account of the first part of the story of David. Graham does not leave out any of the details, showing the step-by-step progression of the biblical passages with moral commentary.

awesomekingThe story is a familiar account to many as just about everyone has heard the story of David and Goliath, but there is much more to the tale. Graham counts back to the days of Saul, a great warrior serving as Israel’s first king, though he proved “completely self-absorbed.” His selfishness prompts God to send the prophet Samuel to select a new king. Rather than choosing from the elite or even one of David’s very capable older brothers, the youngest is anointed to overturn the status quo. And then, no one tells anyone. Bethlehemites whisper of Saul killing them all if he ever finds out.

The book continues with the classic underdog story of a boy versus a giant and then moves to political intrigue worthy of HBO. David is introduced to the palace, builds a friendship with Prince Jonathan, and earns the suspicion of Saul, who becomes murderous in his jealousy of the increasingly popular David. David eventually is driven from the capital, survives adventures in the wilderness in practical civil war, serves as a soldier for the arch-nemesis Philistines, and finally becomes king as Saul and Jonathan are wiped out. As ruler, David gathers up the lost Ark of the Covenant and takes in the surviving member of the Jonathan’s line, the crippled Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth has spent his days hiding in the desert of Lodebar and of course reacts with fear, since it would be well with David’s power to have him executed and seal off any potential usurper from the previous line. David, however, proves generous and faithful to his friendship with Jonathan.

Illustrated with colorful plates, Awesome King is a quick read that begins each sentence on a new line, making it easy on the eyes as a page-turner. It is a very positive telling of King David, very close to the exact biblical wording. The book does not cover David’s entire life and promises to continue the Unexpected Journey, where we will see the less positive actions involving Bathsheba and several more rounds of civil war.

Described as “an Awesome Story for All Ages,” the writing style seems best suited toward a middle grade or young adult audience. Descriptions are minimal to give plenty of room for the twisting plot, yet Graham goes into specific details to explain the significance of names and references a pronunciation guide. Awesome King serves as an enjoyable account as well as a thought-provoking study.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.